Call for Bottesford parish councillors to resign as row over youth club boils over

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The strength of feeling that Bottesford Parish Council should support the village’s youth club was made crystal clear at a meeting on Monday evening.

The Old School in Muston was packed with angry villagers during a parish council meeting, during which councillors were accused of criminal damage, ignoring the wishes of the village and making decisions undemocratically.

An order by chairman Dermot Daly to keep the public forum to just 30 minutes was forgotten and public speaking drew to a close an hour later.

A hot topic was the removal of equipment belonging to the youth club from its meeting place in the Old School in Bottesford, which is currently being renovated to serve as a parish office.

Amanda Bishop, who helps to run the club, demanded an apology for councillors’ decision to dump sofas outside in the rain, which left them ruined.

She said: “A normal, responsible adult would not do that to someone else’s property. You are behaving like children.”

Coun Heather Stokes claimed the furniture was dangerous with “nails sticking out the bottom”.

Another villager accused the parish council chairman of trying to dump the sofas at the nearby tip, which he denied, while another called out: “It’s criminal damage as far as I’m concerned, if you’re taking something that doesn’t belong to you.”

Coun Daly went on to say: “As far as I was concerned, the stuff in the Old School belonged to the council.”

However, fellow parish councillor Lynn Busby said: “No, you knew it belonged to the youth club because you complained about it being there.”

The changing of the locks at the Old School was also brought up, with Mrs Bishop demanding to know why the youth club was not told.

Coun Stokes said it was for health and safety reasons while renovation work is underway, as someone had been letting themselves in and putting brackets for TVs on the walls.

Mrs Bishop told councillors they were “making it impossible” for the youth club to use the Old School.

There were several calls for councillors to resign during the meeting, which was echoed by former Bottesford parish councillor of 36 years Ian Kitchener in an open letter to Coun Daly this week.

In it, he wrote: “At this meeting, and at the previous public meeting at the cricket club in February, the public expressed their overwhelming view that they wished the youth club to have permanent and exclusive use of part of the Old School, which historically they are entitled to. You, as a council, have failed to acknowledge these views and continue to exclude the youth club, and their equipment, from the premises.

“I consider that the only action open to you is to resign en bloc and allow the village to elect who they wish to be on the parish council. Thus allowing public opinion to restore democracy to the council.”

** Councillor David Wright accused the council of misleading him over railings for the well-known stocks in the village. The railings were knocked down in a car collision, and Coun Wright has repeatedly asked for them to be reinstated, offering help to do so. However, it has come about that the council has already obtained railings and he told the meeting: “I’m somewhat taken aback that you were quite prepared for me to waste my time.”

Coun Heather Stokes replied that there must have been a misunderstanding, which resulted in audible outrage from members of the public.