Cross Keys Swing Bridge, Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire

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BRIDGE WATCH NEWSLETTER


May 3 2011

A New Election Leaflet Issued by the Gang of Eleven

Sutton Bridge residents may be surprised to have received a second leaflet from the eleven prospective councillors (seven existing councillors and four hopefuls) listing their so-called achievements during the past four years. They are claiming things for themselves for which they are either not responsible at all or they are shifting their ground to appear to be supporting what they have not supported very well in the past.

What they claim to have done:-

They say: 1. We successfully pressed for the improvements to the traffic scheme, as the vast majority of you asked us to do. Why is it that a small group of people tried for so long to disrupt our village on this matter?

They say: 2. We supported the Community Centre Fund, and their long struggle to get cash from the Power Station fund. We are delighted to see that it is now under construction.

They say: 3. We supported the efforts of Sutton Bridge's flower group, 'Big Bloomers'.

They say: 4. We paid for, and succeeded in getting the new pedestrian crossing near Nene Lodge, and supported the long awaited speed limit changes on Bridge Road.

They say: 5. The very serious, long-standing Japanese knotweed problem on Arnie Broughton Walk is now being treated successfully, after professional advice. The Walk will be kept open.

They say: 6. We are planning a new plot for a burial ground requested by residents. Talks with the church are ongoing.

They say: 7. We support the plans for the East Lighthouse outlined by the new owners.

They say: 8. We created and update[s] the Parish web site and will carry on doing so with the help of our new clerk.

They say: 9. We are determined to keep a Youth Club open, following LCC cuts. We recently supported a meeting to find volunteers to become involved with this, and a home is planned in our new Community Centre.

They say: 10. We fought very hard against the District Council's plan to build a transient Gypsy and Traveller site in Wingland. It has not been built. . . . yet !!!

What the eleven prospective councillors (7+4) say they will do:-

They say: 1. See the Community Centre up and running successfully.

They say: 2. See more activity for the youth of the parish.

They say: 3. Encourage more employment opportunities, and support any projects which will benefit you, the people of Sutton Bridge.

They say: 4. Produce Parish Council News twice a year.

They say: 5. Press for proper maintenance of our flood defences, and work for an updated Parish Emergency Plan so that everyone knows what to do if a problem comes along.

They say: 6. As always, listen to views put at our meetings (soon to be in the new Community Centre, which will improve accessibility).

They say: 7. Press South Holland District Council to see that children's playgrounds are maintained to a high standard, and organize high quality park furniture at the east end of Arnie Broughton Walk for a picnic site.

They say: 8. Ensure that Nene Marine Community Interest Company Ltd, which is to receive Power Station (S 106) money, is conducted in line with its stated aims. The directors, who include Thomas and Jennifer Rowe, can award themselves whatever remuneration they wish!

They say: 9. Bring a new burial ground into use.

To reiterate:-

They say: 10. Improve Sutton Bridge as a desirable place to live, visit and enjoy.

They say: 11. Ensure that the Power Station (S 106) money is used for the benefit of Sutton Bridge. £400,000 has been allocated by South Holland jointly to the marina and lighthouse projects. The lighthouse is now to be a private project. Say half of this £400,000 would go a long way towards a new Sports Pavilion and a Police presence in the Community Centre. Tell us what you think about that.


Apr 21 2011

FOCUS ON THE PARISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Forget the Wedding! Forget the AV Referendum! Let's focus on the Parish Council Elections on the 5th May.

Why should we? Well, the government is putting emphasis on the idea of local people making local decisions. The key question is: which local people will make the decisions? The Parish Council is supposed to represent us. Have we been able to trust the current Parish Council to make the right decisions on behalf of the residents of Sutton Bridge in the past? How will we ensure that a new Parish Council does what it ought to do?

One glaring example suggests that residents ought to be vigilant. Several current councillors, for reasons best known to themselves, were elected last time on the single plank that they would get rid of the Bridge Road Enhancement Scheme. In May 2009 as a result of a severely flawed so-called consultation process they managed to get 300 people out of 3000 (in rounded figures) to say that they wanted the Scheme scrapped; no doubt the remaining 2700 residents have been wondering why on earth the bollard outside the nursing home was taken out and a pedestrian crossing installed at great expense where very few people will ever use it. The fact is that when most sensible villages & towns are crying out for road-calming measures the wise men of our Parish Council have been intent on trying to turn Bridge Road back into a race track, fit for the easy and swift passage of HGV's, buses and tractors. It looks as though two more bollards are to be removed in what Mr Brewis describes as "a compromise".

When the flawed so-called 'consultation process' was challenged, the South Holland Standards Committee's only comment was that the way it was conducted was 'unfortunate'. Ludicrously, under current government proposals, even Standards Committees, self-serving as they are, will be abolished because of the huge expense of dealing with all the complaints they receive about Parish Councils up and down the land. Who will now try to make sure that councillors toe the line and do their job properly?―as four or five of our councillors most certainly do.

Asked what they were intending to do about heavy and speeding traffic in Bridge Road, our Parish Council said that they had 'no plans' to tackle the problem. Certain councillors even turned an on-site public meeting on traffic issues (August 2009) into a shouting match; even some of those Councillors who supported the Aggressive Tendency were embarrassed by this outburst. Unfortunately, rational discussion on this issue has been consistently thwarted by some of our 'caring' Councillors.

Members of Bridge Watch have attended every Parish Council meeting since May 2009 and have observed not only a reluctance to discuss important issues properly but demonstrations of disrespect both between councillors themselves and towards members of the public, not to mention extreme male chauvinist insulting behaviour towards the previous Parish Clerk. It is true that recently there have been a few bursts of sensible discussion.

Only the residents of Sutton Bridge can keep the Parish Council on track by becoming aware of what they are planning. You can attend monthly Parish Council meetings and/or consult the Bridgewatch Website where issues and reports on meetings are more comprehensive than anything you'll get from the Council itself.

When you look at the Statement of Persons Nominated for election on May 5th you'll find a lot of incestuous nominating and seconding but you won't find much about what the persons nominated stand for. There is not a lot more detail in the recent 'Newsletter' which some households receive. What is an 'independent' for instance? Independent of what? If independence means anything, it suggests doing just what you want to do without regard for others―is this what we want in people who are to represent us and spend our money? Then there's a white hat merchant, and somebody who appears to want us to vote for him because he runs a café. However, there are also three people who offer themselves to us as standing for what sound like very acceptable principles.

Which of these do we want to represent us?

It appears that for many prospective councillors the sole qualification that will get them elected is the length of time they've lived in Sutton Bridge. One could argue that the longer you live somewhere the less able you are to be able to see the wood for the trees; you become blinded with familiarity. We need people of wide vision and experience rather than an insider group members of which incestuously nominate and second each other or get close relations to do so. Why do they find it impossible to get outsiders to give them support?

Councillors should be people of unbiassed principle; they should be able to take a broad view of all issues concerning the whole community; they should be able to read reports properly and represent issues articulately during meetings; they should be respectful at all times; all discussion should be rational and considerate of alternative points of view.

Look at all the manifestos that come though the door then think about who you will vote for.


Jan 21 2011

BRIDGE WATCH PROGRESS REPORT:

January 2011

Bridge Watch Website

Bridge Watch has been in existence for nearly two years pursuing its original purpose of closely watching the activities of Sutton Bridge Parish Council. Its Website has been flourishing for just over a year, constantly being updated and diversifying into a grass-roots representation of the whole community and its environment. We are now a much consulted feature on the Sutton Bridge landscape. Our major success is having so many people visit the site and logging into the pages that highlight the problems facing Sutton Bridge.

The Sutton Bridge railwayOther Websites covering Sutton Bridge are not so regularly updated or so inclusive. Bridge Watch has worked hard to bring youth and age together in its reminiscence project; the results can be found on the Website. Also there are Notes on historical Sutton Bridge and the accompanying photos make a general focus for research.

Some members of the Parish Council clearly thought we were important enough to approach to see how we could work together. This seemed like a good way forward at the time but it came to nothing when a certain councillor’s deviousness was exposed.

From comments they make from time to time, it’s clear that some members of the Parish Council access the Website and perhaps realise its growing importance to the wider community, if not to themselves. It is consulted by SHDC, Natural England, MAG, LCC, and voters in other Parish Council areas who express the view that they wish they had something like Bridge Watch to keep tabs on their own Parish Council. (See the Bridge Watch Website on the universal problem of Parish Council misrule).

Rather belatedly, the Parish Council recently set up its own Website and laments that it doesn’t get so many ‘hits’ as we do. We welcome the fact however that it refers to ‘Sutton Bridge and Wingland’; now long-retired members of the Parish Council will attest to old battles that were fought to get the Parish Council to include Wingland in its title, giving this ancient area proper recognition.

We also hope that, as it gains momentum, the Parish Council Website will soon eclipse and replace the heavily biased Newsletter, concocted by the Man in the White Hat, with its inaccurate innuendoes which do not contribute anything to what should be the dignified status of the Parish Council.

Elections

Though it did not come through the letter boxes of all residents, the recent Newsletter from Councillor Brewis, reminds us that there are elections due in May; the Newsletter is the beginning of his election campaign.

Do you know what kind of people you are voting for? Anybody who attends Parish Council meetings on a regular basis can see & hear for themselves. Around a third of Councillors are undoubtedly sincere and really genuine in their wish to serve the community. However, one Councillor never turns up at all—there is no indication of the reason why.

The Libcon Coalition’s much-publicised concept of ‘localism’ means that, in theory at least, Parish Councils will have more power than they used to have. How can we be sure that the current majority on the Parish Council will exercise that power for the good of all? Sutton Bridge desperately deserves a complete set of representatives who are dedicated to the interests of all members of the community not to the interests of a small clique.

What has Bridge Watch achieved in almost two years of operation?


JULY 2009 NEWSLETTER DELIVERED TO SUTTON BRIDGE RESIDENTS
followed by the
AUGUST 2009 PARISH COUNCIL’S RESPONSE

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Residents of Sutton Bridge…..

Do you know who your Parish Councillors are?

Do you trust them to act on your behalf?

Not sure?

An ever increasing number of residents are angry, and are coming to regard them as self-serving petty oligarchs, and not as serving representatives of local democracy.

Do you know that:

The Council policy on the Sutton Bridge Road Safety Scheme is based on an amateurish questionnaire carried out by one Council member which was rigged in favour of that Councillor’s views, and that a third of the signatories on the original petition were non-Sutton Bridge residents – lorry drivers from Worthing, Leeds, Norwich.

Is this local democracy?

The Council is pursuing a highly controversial scheme to cut up and transfer public ownership of a large section of the town park into private hands. This will affect our local football club by chopping into the pitches. It will reduce the size of the park. Against the wishes of all who use it for recreational purposes.

Is this local democracy?

The Council recently sanctioned and carried out the near destruction of the nature conservation area that abuts the park. Members of the public, e.g. children’s groups, parents of children who play in the park, schools, dog walkers, bird watchers, etc were not consulted.

Is this local democracy?

The Council is considering facilitating the building of a gigantic wind farm – a final decision is imminent – that will be seen from every south facing window in Sutton Bridge, plus a large waste incinerator to burn thousands of tons of rubbish which will have to be brought in by road all day every day. Every asthma sufferer should be concerned about this. If these facilities are built, local house prices will drop like a stone. One local councillor who talks only of local jobs and business expansion, is quite content to see Sutton Bridge turned into the industrial armpit of South Lincs. Those of us who grew up here, or moved here for a quiet life, have not been consulted on these matters.

Is this local democracy?

At a recent open meeting the Parish Council, the Chair of the Council, Mr. Dewsberry told a member of the public who had raised a matter of general interest, to ‘shut up’. At the following open meeting, the chair conveniently could not recall using that phrase, despite it being remembered by most others present, and being recorded in the press. The Vice Chair, Mr. Preston, said it did not matter anyway; when it comes to minutes of previous meetings being agreed by Council members, "we can do what we like".

Is this local democracy?

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THE PARISH COUNCIL’S RESPONSE
AUGUST 2009

In reply to the letter to residents of Sutton Bridge

a) Public may visit the Parish Council office and names will be given.

b) They were elected at the last election and not co-opted.

c) They are working for the majority who put them in and not for a small group which wants to take the best interests away from the people of Sutton Bridge.


1. The Parish Council policy on the Sutton Bridge Road Safety Scheme is based on a number of surveys, ie petition, a parish poll, county councillor survey, county election, parish council election and a parish meeting – which resulted in over 90 per cent of the Sutton Bridge people wanting to get the road scheme removed. The original petition was organised by the businesses of Sutton Bridge.

THIS IS LOCAL DEMOCRACY

2. The council is looking to create a new cemetery as the churchyard will soon run out of spaces for burial, they will be looking to take a small strip of alongside the present churchyard – this will not be going into private hands, it will stay with the Parish Council. There will have to be a parish meeting before any decision is taken.

THIS IS LOCAL DEMOCRACY.

3. The council discussed the problem of the Japanese knotweed on the Arnie Broughton Walk and agreed to get in touch with the Environment Agency, Defra and South Holland District Council – they were advised that it was up to the landowner to eradicate this terrible weed. It was not in closed session.

THIS IS LOCAL DEMOCRACY.

4. The gigantic wind farm that is proposed is not in the parish of Sutton Bridge but they have been given the opportunity to comment – they have not supported the site. The large incinerator will have to get planning approval from South Holland District Council and we will again be given the opportunity to forward our comments. This has not come to the council to date.

THIS IS LOCAL DEMOCRACY.

5. The chairman of the Parish Council had asked the public "would they please be quiet" whilst the council meeting was taking place but due to public uproar he told them that if it did not stop he would have to ask them to leave, again certain members of the public did not take any notice, this is when the chairman told them to "shut up". All this took place when open forum was closed. The vice chairman did not say "we can do what we like". What he did say was that it was up to the parish council what is recorded in the minutes.

THIS IS LOCAL DEMOCRACY

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NEWSLETTER UPDATE 16.01.2010

It has been noted that the Sutton Bridge Parish Council have sent letter of objection to the South Holland District Council concerning the building of the Tydd St. Mary wind farm. The SHDC Planning Department have deferred their decision for the time being.