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Report says Bingham Town Council’s conduct has been ‘damaging and expensive’

A report aiming to drive improvements at a town council says recent years have been “damaging and expensive” and have “stained” the authority’s reputation.

Bingham Town Council has faced a string of issues which led to some residents starting a petition requesting that Rushcliffe Borough Council take over the running of the authority.

An independent report stated two councillors, Francis Purdue-Horan and John Stockwood, had breached Bingham Town Council’s member code of conduct and both were suspended from the Conservative party.

Rushcliffe Borough Council offered to set up an Improvement Board to review Bingham’s governance.

The resulting report, which has now been published on the council’s website, states that the board, made up of five members, spoke to people “on all sides” who want to “draw a line under this situation and move on”.

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But the report says the councillor’s “attitudes and behaviours are the overriding issue to the resolution of the problems”.

“However some people may want to portray it, the events of the last two years have been damaging, expensive and have stained the Council’s reputation”, it states.

Bingham has around 10,000 residents but the council was seen to be “mirroring” county council norms, the report added – and the board “seriously questions the degree of political control exercised in such a small council of this size”.

Since September 2019, Rushcliffe Borough Council has received over 25 complaints about Bingham Town Council’s activities – which the report states is six times more than all the complaints from all the other 38 town and parish councils in Rushcliffe’s area put together.

And around £4.35 per head has been spent by Bingham Town Council for each of their local electors on reviews and legal advice as a result of the problems.

Some councillors have also resigned before their term of office has finished – which is also costly at £6,000 per resulting election.

The report states: “The continuing arguments have been time consuming, with significant opportunity costs in time and money for the Town Council, and the subsequent reputational damage has been significant. councillors and residents, attended meetings and read reports and documents.

“Some of the reports about the associated social media comments etc have been quite disturbing and the Police have been involved. The Board therefore strongly recommends that all Members desist from any negative commentary and behaviour about other Members on social media.

“Just because there may be a majority group there is no excuse to short circuit the decision making process, to exclude other Members who are not part of any such grouping from reports or decision making; or close down input from them with reliance on verbal updates.”

The board recommends that Bingham Town Council publishes a plan detailing what it wishes to achieve.

It also recommends that training is in place including around the code of conduct and social media.

It has put together an action plan which it asks that the town council signs.

The report said that councillors “need to have the emotional intelligence to take into account peoples’ feelings, and their rights and responsibilities”.

It states: “There is simply no excuse for poor behaviour towards staff, and the
degree of antagonism Members have encountered reflects the degree of
injustice local people feel about the poor working culture of the Council and the arguments that ensue.”

Bingham councillors will discuss the report during its meeting on 24 May.

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