The utter mayhem at council meetings at one town council in Shropshire has prompted the Standards Board for England to order the members of Whitchurch Town Council to attend behavioural training.
Such was the pandemonium at this wayward authority that the watchdog has received 35 complaints in less than four years, according to the Shropshire Star. This includes five complaints just this year about council clerk Peter Martin, and 17 complaints from residents about the same three councillors.
Although what has actually taken place is left to our imagination, we are told:
“Members are now to be trained in conflict resolution, and their duties as councillors.They will also all need to revise their registered interests and issues affecting a councillor’s judgement”.
No prizes for guessing who will be picking up the hefty bill for this ‘conflict resolution’ training, and looking at the websites of the training companies who offer this course it doesn’t come cheap, with a one day course costing over £500 each on average.
Council meetings carry some real importance for local residents, and are meant to function constructively as a forum for discussion and decision-making. They are not supposed to resemble a primate enclosure at feeding time, and it is a real disservice that these unruly individuals have been allowed to notch-up so many complaints before disciplinary action has been taken.
If meetings in the private sector descended into this sort of bedlam, you can rest assured that in the majority of cases there would be one very final sort of ‘conflict resolution’, and it more than likely wouldn’t cost a penny.
From wasting time, to costly courses, to investigations by the Standards Board, the quarrelling at Whitchurch Town Council has been expensive and destructive. What is more, all regard for local taxpayers and notions of civic duty seem to have been well and truly eclipsed by the sort of quarrelling and petty in-fighting that really warrants dismissals all round for those at fault, not half-baked ‘behavioural training’ for grown adults who can’t conduct themselves in the very arena to which the electorate have faithfully elected them as a representative.