Continued - RSOGB IGNORED BY RAINHILL PARISH COUNCIL
Image: Rainhill Parish Councillors - Cllr. Barry Grunewald, Cllr. Steve Glover, Cllr. Joe DeAsha.
Following our previously published questions to Rainhill Parish Council, we waited 7 weeks we then sent a reminder and then issued a formal complaint and asked for a reply within 7 days as laid down in Parish Council procedures. Several days after the expiry of the 7 days we received the responses below. We know that many of you contact us not just about your concerns about the Greenbelt but also the actions of the Rainhill Parish Councillors and SHMB Councillors and sundry overlapping of roles. We would like to give you all the opportunity to comment on the replies from the Parish Council so that we can incorporate them into our response. Please feel free to comment on this thread or to message us directly via our contact page on our website https://www.rainhillsogb.co.uk/contact with your thoughts or concerns. As always we will do our best to represent your views of to the Parish Council.
Dear Mr Fairclough,
Apologies for the delay in replying at this busy time. The Parish Council Clerk is employed on a part-time basis and must give priority to undertaking statutory functions, this means that the Clerk and the Council cannot always reply as speedily as either you or they would prefer.
To summarise the Council’s role:
The Parish Council has not altered its position on the Draft Local Plan. It is in support of brownfield development over greenfield development wherever possible.
The Council is an independent local authority tasked to represent all the interests of the Rainhill community, both present and future.
As such, members are required to make their own mind up on any decision when all the relevant information is available.
To ensure the Council maximises its (limited) ability to indirectly influence any planning decision, the Council members have always taken care not to expose themselves to any possible charge of prejudging a decision.
Not to do so would undermine councillors’ ability to represent the Rainhill residents’ interests.
R-SOGB. QUESTION 1.
The group’s goals remain solely for the good of our village and for the benefit of the whole community.
With that in mind my first question is;
“Will the members of the Parish Council, who where voted in to office by the residents of Rainhill, be prepared to stand up, work and campaign with our group on the streets?
R.P.C. REPLY 1.
Councillors and the Council have a responsibility to represent the Parish and the range of different interests (present and future) within it. In any democratic Civic body, other than conduct issues, Council must be respectful of different views and opinions and not be seen to stifle the freedom of individual Members, or residents, who take views that differ from other Members, other residents, or campaign groups.
R-SOGB. QUESTION 2.
How much autonomy do “The Rainhill Parish Council” members have over their own actions and opinions?
R.P.C. REPLY 2.
Further to answer 1, above, individual Members are free to conduct themselves as they see fit, subject to the important constraints of the Code of Conduct.
R-SOGB 2a. Are there any directions, instructions or requests from any of the “Town Hall” departments, legal or otherwise, regarding being involved in any way with our group and campaign?
R.P.C. REPLY 2a. The Council receives communications from a wide range of sources. It is the councillors’ responsibility to assess these and draw their own conclusions in the light of their own experience, personal research and judgement. As it is in the public domain, the legal department at St. Helens Borough Council from time to time communicates to Parish Councils the importance of not fettering their discretion when considering controversial matters, particularly around planning matters.
R-SOGB QUESTION 3.
The “Rainhill Parish Council” have various communication outlets such as Newsletters and a website. Recently l have noticed on your website there are a number of community organisations, like “Rainhill High School”, “The Eco Garden”, and “The Village Hall”.
As our organisation and campaign is purely voluntary, not aligned with any political party and involves everyone in the Parish, we feel your website, if we where to be included would give everyone in the Parish of Rainhill the opportunity to very easily be kept up to speed with all the latest information
R.P.C REPLY 3.
As a democratic Civic institution, the Council must maintain its independence from political parties or political campaigns. It would not be appropriate for the Parish Council to include organisations that are engaged in political campaigns whether or not that campaign is identified with a particular political party. This does not preclude individual Members of the Council supporting or opposing particular causes, campaigns, groups or parties.
R-SOGB QUESTION 4.
As a community group, we are very much aware that today, in the 21st century, the majority of people are using social media, this includes councillors and ourselves.
Some of you will already be aware that St Helens Councillors use of Social Media is very much under the microscope (At tomorrows meeting).
We at “Rainhill S.O.G.B. are particularly concerned and disappointed because the councillor in charge of the “Local Plan” has decided, out of all the “Green Belt Groups” in the borough, to block “Rainhill”.
We feel that this puts us at a deliberate disadvantage, which we can only believe is detrimental to your Parish and electorate.
We request, very strongly that we be immediately unblocked. We are more than willing to meet the councillor in question to discuss any issues that he may feel exist.
R.P.C. REPLY 4.
The Council is not responsible for Members’ use, or non-use, of social media. You can find contact details for individual Members on the Parish website and can direct your queries to the Member in question: http://rainhillparish.org.uk/council/contact_councillors.html
R-SOGB QUESTION 5.
Finally l would like to point out something, which l have recently read in the “Labour Parties” newsletter “The Rose”, which hopefully reflects not only the beliefs and actions of the Labour councillors here tonight, but all the councillors and members of the “Labour Party”.
This reads “Your Labour Councillors will continue to work alongside residents to deliver improvements for the benefit of the village”.
R.P.C. REPLY 5.
As a democratic Civic institution, the Parish Council is independent of any political parties. You would need to direct your query to the relevant political party.
As you are aware, the Parish Council is not involved in the current phase of the Local Plan work. St Helens Council has indicated the next phase of the process will start sometime in the Summer. At that point, the Parish Council will have something substantive to discuss.