Yarm Town Council IMPLODING?
- – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, commenting on a bomb-shell Press Release from the Vice Chair of Yarm Town Council, where an elector inspecting the Annual Accounts – as is every Yarm elector’s right under the terms of the Accounts & Audit (England) Regulations 2015 SI 234 – found a far from warm welcome. Instead of the ‘openness and transparency’ which is said to underscore local democracy, Mr Terry CHAPMAN and his companion Jason CLARKE found themselves confronted by ‘intimidation and hostility’. One would almost think there must have been something to hide . . . it makes Potto Parish Council look like a monastery!
A very warm welcome to the Enquirer, Yarm Town Clerk, Ms Juliet JOHNSON (pictured above right – with Cllr Philip ADDISON, Chair of Finance (above left). That’s the ‘bouncer’ in the centre background.
The Enquirer has a great deal to reveal on the subject of dysfunctional Town and Parish Councils. Meanwile, Yarm Town Council Vice Chair, Councillor Pam SMAILES has issued the following Press Release.
~ PRESS RELEASE ~
The vice Chair and other senior Councillors have condemned the actions of its own Town Clerk as
“Irrational, insulting and possibly unlawful.”
In arranging for two licensed security staff to be present when a Yarm resident wished to exercise their annual right to inspect the town council’s financial records.
The Yarm resident, Terry Chapman, had previously raised concerns into potential failings at the Town Council, including the way a sub contract was awarded to Yarm’s Town Clerk without full compliance with the Council’s commissioning rules, that a payment was made to the Town Clerk for carried out by the Town Clerk voluntarily by the Town Clerk and that this payment was processed without the proper approvals of the Town Council.
Every year, residents in Yarm, and other areas with Town and Parish Councils, have a narrow window of opportunity to examine in detail the financial records of a Council. Following receipt of information obtained via Freedom of Information Requests, Mr Chapman made an appointment to “inspect the accounts” on Wednesday 12th July 2023. However, on arrival at Town Council offices Mr Chapman and his friends had to pass two Security Industry Authority licensed “bouncers”.
Initially believing the “bouncer’s” attendance was nothing to do with the inspection, it subsequently became clear they were there to make the inspection experience extremely uncomfortable.
Also in attendance was another Yarm resident, Jason Clarke said:
“I’m a front row scrum rugby player of some size and I too felt intimidated by the presence of two ‘heavies’.”
Mr Chapman described how:
“The experience was made even more difficult as the Town Clerk, and Cllr Addison who was also in attendance, refused to offer assistance or even offer a table to be able view the relevant paperwork. Mr Chapman added that when he picked a file of invoices to examine that.
Cllr Addison then yelled at me to “put that file down”.
Mr Clarke said that the Town Clerk told him that the presence of two badged SIA badged ‘bouncers’ were paid for by the Town Clerk and “out of her own pocket”.
Cllr Pam Smailes, vice Chair of Yarm Town Council commented that:
“It is totally unacceptable that a member of the public merely exercising their statutory right to examine the financial records should be intimidated in this way. We should be encouraging more people to take an interest in what goes on the Town Council and not making them feel uncomfortable or refusing to help them.”
The task of inspecting the accounts was aborted after approximately 10 minutes with a view to making alternative arrangements.”
This statement is made by Vice Chair Cllr Pam Smailes and supported by Cllr Bob Wegg and Cllr Barbara Wegg
The image attached to the email containing this PR were taken during the aborted inspection of accounts and permission for their legal and reasonable use is granted.
~ ENDS ~