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Matthew Hancock
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It's not party time any more at the town council

Wednesday, 7th April 2010.

Haverhill Town Council's meetings are not intended to be entertaining, the town clerk told a member of the public who complained about them last night.

Frank Bradsell, who represents a pensioners group in the town and who has been attending the council's meetings for nearly 20 years, used the opportunity of the public forum during last night's council meeting to tell members they had become boring.

He called for more debate and contributions from individual members, some of whom he complained he had never heard say a word.

At a recent meeting he had asked why the town council's element in council tax this year had gone up around 20 per cent, when other councils had only gone up around two per cent, but was told by the mayor, Cllr Elaine McManus, that he would receive a reply in writing.

Mr Bradsell thought councillors ought to be able to answer such questions then and there, and said they were too reliant on town clerk Gordon Mussett.

He received support from a former Haverhill town and borough councillor, Eileen Elkins, whose late husband Bill was a former Mayor of St Edmundsbury.

"Meetings are frustrating," she said, "because there is no interaction between the groups. You just rubber stamp everything that goes on in the committees.

"Surely there must be some items on an agenda where someone disagrees or has a contribution to make."

Councillors replied they did a lot of work behind the scenes and by e-mail, as well as receiving a lot of supporting data from the clerk.

Cllr Mary Martin said: "I really value the public forum. It is vital that debate is enriched by the comments of the public."

But Mr Bradsell said it was hardly worth his while attending nowadays because it had become so boring. "The full town council meeting should be the centrepiece of the town council," he said.

Mr Mussett said: "Council meetings are not supposed to be entertaining. We are running a 1million business. We could sit here all night with everyone contributing to a debate and not get anything done."

Cllr Les Ager said many councillors were still quite new to the job and relied on the professional help of the clerk.

"As to the political side," he said, "there is only one party we work for here, and that is the best that we can get for Haverhill."

Haverhill Online News

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