Tuesday 27th February 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

“Village of the Damned”

January 15, 2023 Letters, Potto

Letters to the Editor from just two of a growing band of Potto-watchers responding to Enquirer coverage of arguably the worst Parish Council in England and Wales.

ADAM TAYLOR of Northallerton has been attempting to obtain answers from Potto Parish Council for four months and continues to be thwarted at every turn.

The second Letter comes from a contributor too afraid to be identified (!) following reports of Police intervention regarding harassment and intimidation directed at those who ask too many questions.

Part 3 of the series “Potto: Wheres the Money?” will appear later this week.

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Hi Editor,

I want to let you know my feelings about these Enquirer articles that keep appearing about Potto Council – they’re fantastic. I want to tell you and your many new readers in Potto about how Potto Parish Council uses cover-up and endless delays to try to shut-up anyone who is plucky enough to ask thorny questions.

I figured a lot of details about the objections were being hidden by the Council, so I asked them on a public website for numbers of how many Objections were dismissed for various reasons or upheld for the Public Audit Report in July 2022:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/were_objections_overwhelmingly_s#incoming-2142380

You can see all their answers are really unhelpful and very antagonistic; it’s like they have a vexatious mindset to sweep infractions under the carpet.

I might find their grasp of these numbers hilarious if it wasn’t actually so serious.

For example, Potto Parish Council has told me by email that it doesn’t know where I found out 97 Objections were investigated, even after I had already told them earlier that this number is written in an Audit Report displayed on their own Council website!!!

I find Potto Council’s total lack of diligence towards transparency and accountability contemptibly bad. They still don’t get it, or appreciate the disaster they are obviously causing, which newspaper reports say will cost everyone £500 in extra Council Tax.

There is far more information about Objection numbers in Enquirer articles than I’ve ever got from the Council, despite 4 months trying.

Why isn’t the Clerk fired? Why do Councillors faff about like this? Why do they never apologise? Why don’t they ever admit mistakes or sort out the problems?

The auditor said governance is significantly and seriously weak – what an understatement that is! Councillors all seem cluelessly out-of-control and couldn’t care a fig if they comply with the FOIA or not. And the odd titbit released is often far from accurate. Shocking.

I will be writing to the Auditor soon. I don’t know how people like this can ever get put into positions of power. And now these people are trying to appeal the audit work, they must think they’re cowboys living in the Wild West. God help us!

Can you think about publishing a new article about how Potto Parish Council treats information given to the public and find out why the Clerk isn’t fired?

My commendations to your hard working investigators and editorial team – you have lots more to do here.

Many many thanks,

Adam Taylor

Northallerton Info Requester


Dear NY Enquirer Editor
I am a new convert to your Enquirer publications, especially about Potto council. As there are lots of emails flying around the village and elsewhere in North Yorkshire, many of which highlight your website and your investigations into Potto council. I hope you will consider publishing this letter without exposing my name and address. I feel quite intimidated by some of the talk I am hearing. People are calling Potto the “Village of the Damned”.
I also would like to find out why residents seem to be not complaining to Hambleton council or to County Hall about all this. I hear there are rumours of harassment and intimidation against some known whistleblowers (who have legal protection and can sue) and it seems to me, but this is very unclear in the meeting minutes, that even North Yorkshire Police have been called in to advise or warn the council.
Maybe it is fear of intimidation that is stopping residents from calling out the council. It certainly is in my case, I freely admit it.
I’m so sorry for everyone burdoned with this extra £500 in council tax – I don’t know how councillors dare show their faces in public. How do we know it won’t happen again?
I have read your articles, four up to now, shocked and open-mouthed. The subject matter is truly incredible and it should never be allowed to happen in a western democracy.
Thank goodness the outside Auditor is on the ball, unlike the local chap who seems to be a co-operating in the council’s game. I can’t understand why they do it or how think they won’t ever get caught out – what’s in it for them? The articles have put sunlight into some previously very dark corners and seem to be very well researched and written with great care – please pass my admiration on to your investigation team and the Reporter, Mr Ward.
I’d like to suggest some further areas that could be investigated. Perhaps you could find out why and how the Clerk remains in post, as she is the one who is responsible for legal obligations and smooth running of the council and has obviously failed totally for years and years. Despite being very well paid and apparently doing very little if anything to sort the problems out. Then again, perhaps she has some hold over one or more of the councillors – there must be a reason why she hasn’t been fired and replaced.
Another concern of interest to readers like me is how Potto council claims to be appealing against the Public Audit Report. When I phoned the SAAA about this I was told there is no appeal process. Somebody is telling porkies.
Anyway, I am now a regular reader of the Enquirer and I hope your work inspires all involved to act properly and support the democratic process. This needs sorting out.
My very best wishes – keep going – we need publications like yours!!!

Yours faithfully,

[Name & Address supplied]

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