Relations have become further strained between a Dales parish council and Richmondshire District Council – which has been likened to a ‘third world banana republic’ by the parish council chair.
Cllr John Blackie, chair of Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council, has criticised a senior officer and the leader of the district council for turning down an invitation to attend the next parish council meeting.
The parish council invited chief executive Tony Clark and leader Yvonne Peacock to the meeting amid what the invitation said was “considerable disquiet at the continuing cutback in services provided by Richmondshire District Council to the town of Hawes and the Parish of Hawes & High Abbotside”.
The parish authority is concerned about several issues including cuts to the cleaning of the public toilets, cuts to the street scene services in Hawes and a lack of winter gritting in the town.
However, both the chief executive and leader have turned down the invitation, saying they have already discussed the issues at length with the council and its chair.
Cllr Peacock told Richmondshire Today: “We have addressed the concerns through correspondence and during council meetings to enable the chair to feed the information back to members of the parish council.”
Mr Clark said in his response to the authority that operations director, Colin Dales has already attended a meeting of your parish council in October 2016.
He added that Mr Dales also wrote to the authority in September last year on the issue of toilet cleaning, and again in October addressing general concerns and criticisms about the council.
He added: “Your chairman has also raised his and the parish council’s concerns and criticisms at several meetings of the council’s corporate board and full council meetings, and has received detailed responses to the issues raised on each occasion.”
But Cllr Blackie said their decision to turn down the invitation meant they were treating the authority with “disdain”.
He added: “To dismiss an invitation issued in front of a public audience of some 40 local residents in Hawes and High Abbotside in such a cavalier fashion is reminiscent of the antics of a third world banana republic, not the actions of a supposedly responsible, democratic, accountable, transparent Richmondshire District Council parrots its claims to aspire to at every opportunity.
“Perhaps the chief executive of RDC and its leader, Cllr Yvonne Peacock, are running scared from the duty to be held to account by a Parish Council that has seen service after service cut back or cut out out in the last 18 months in the town, without any consultation with us whatsoever.”