Campaigners in Clowne claim democracy is under threat within their parish council after a number of changes to rules at meetings.
Villagers have raised concerns after the 15-minute slot for public questions at monthly parish council meetings was reduced to ten minutes, a weekly Saturday surgery has been reduced to once a month, and questions to members of the council must be submitted in writing seven days in advance. Questions are now ‘noted’ rather than answered and discussed, some meetings have now been moved from the evening to the middle of the day and a recent meeting had to be postponed because there was no one to take minutes due to the clerk leaving.
Clowne Parish Council was asked to comment on a number of occasions but declined.
The concerns come ahead of an election for a parish councillor for the Clowne South Ward tomorrow (February 16).
Resident Ross Walker, of Gray Street, Clowne, who is standing as an Independent councillor in the election, said: “People feel like there is no public involvement in anything.”
People have started filming meetings and posting them in a community Facebook page called Clowne Together.
An anonymous letter sent to the Derbyshire Times said: “We feel our council does not listen or pay heed to what residents of Clowne ask of these elected people, democracy does not exist within this council.
“A new local group who started attending the meeting have been continually criticised by certain councillors. Members of this group asked certain questions of the council. The councillors took these questions as being accusations which was not the case. All these people requested was information about certain things that were happening at that time, but no definite answers were given by any of the councillors.”
The letter added: “In our view, democracy has gone out of the window and our council is fast becoming dictatorial.”
The Derbyshire Times put a number of questions regarding all of the above to the parish council but it chose not to comment.
The council’s procedure for meetings can be found at: www.clowneparishcouncil.com/minutes
The other candidate for the Clowne South Ward is Independent councillor Dave Ward.
The poll will take place between 7am and 7pm.