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'Disenfranchised' Beaconsfield cllrs refuse to sit on committees
THE row over Beaconsfield’s Jubilee celebrations (see related links) comes amid rumblings of discontent from independent members of the town council.
At a stormy Beaconsfield Town Council meeting last month four independent councillors refused to sit on any council committees, saying they felt "disenfranchised" by recent changes.
The Conservative majority ‘streamlined’ the small authority last year, slashing the number of meetings and creating the role of leader, which is unusual for a town council.
At the same meeting Alan Walters was re-elected to the leader post.
According to the minutes, independent councillor Graham Davie made "several serious allegations" relating to Cllr Walters, but these were later withdrawn.
Cllr Davie declined to comment further when contacted by the Bucks Free Press.
Geoff Grover, another of the independents, told the Bucks Free Press: "It’s my ninth year on the council and I feel more disconnected than the previous eight years."
"While there’s been good communication with the leader and the officers of the council, there have definitely been issues with cascading the information down through all 16 councillors.
"Things happen and meetings happen and because the frequency of meetings is far less than it was, one doesn’t get to know about it till it gets into the minutes.
The shake-up last year also halved the number of councillors on each committee, with its membership drawn up in proportion to political party.
Cllr Grover said the independents would still attend committee meetings, though not as formal members, and would still vote at full council.
But councillor Alan Walters said the criticisms were "totally unfounded", saying the independents "just want to take a step backwards and have more committee meetings and do nothing".
He added: "The role of leader was to coordinate the staff for four years rather than a mayor turning over every year.
"There is no information that’s kept from anybody. It’s worked extremely well and we are getting more done than ever. All councillors are kept informed through minutes and agendas and any information they need for their own wards."
What do you think? Does party politics have a role to play at parish and town councils?