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Desperate villager demands: 'What is going on at Tunstall parish council?'


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A problem parish council is now down to just two councillors making it impossible to carry out its business.

Former chairman Louisa Roberts, one of the three remaining members at troubled Tunstall parish council has quit, according to its website.

Tunstall village. Google
Tunstall village. Google

That means the local authority, which collects £20,859 in council tax from 700 homes, is technically inquorate.

Furious villager William Woods asked: "Who will sort out this beleaguered parish council and ensure that its reckless spending stops? We residents really need answers."

The council made headlines in December after spending nearly all of its precept on legal bills and administration. It had run up a bill of £13,230 for HR advice and spent £7,366 on staff, a total of £20,596, since April last year.

Mr Woods said: "I continue to be extremely concerned about the runaway spending."

According to the minutes of the council's latest extraordinary meeting on March 29, a further bill of £7,905.62 for staff and HR was due.

Tunstall village sign
Tunstall village sign

Mr Woods said: "This latest payment means that in the last financial year the council will have spent £29,663 on staff and HR. The council continues to be as transparent as a brick wall.

"These latest payments would seem to imply that they are either still paying excessively for HR advice or someone has been given a massive bonus. Or, more worrying, someone may have been paid off ."

He added: "It is only a small council with a previously very small staffing expenditure. Last year £8,691 was spent on staff.

"It really is time for the other councillors to do the honourable thing and step down and repay the money they have happily frittered away. This situation really must not be allowed to continue. It is an absolute disgrace."

Before she left the council, Cllr Roberts admitted: “We are having staffing issues but it is highly confidential. We are all volunteers and so have to access professional advice.”

Village sign, Tunstall Road, Tunstall. Picture: Andy Payton
Village sign, Tunstall Road, Tunstall. Picture: Andy Payton

The two remaining councillors are former Swale and Kent councillor Lee Burgess and Vivien Rich, who has taken over as chairman. Julie Miller is standing in as temporary clerk.

They heard no one had applied to become a councillor so the vacancies would be re-advertised. The council is also seeking a replacement clerk and is drawing up a job description.

The council agreed to switch its bank account from Barclays to Unity Trust. In February it had funds of £35,133.31.

The council's annual meeting is to be held on Monday at 7pm in St John the Baptist church. It is open to the public.

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