8 July 2010

A little arm-twisting........

There have long been reports of discontent within the membership of the old Somerton Town Council in the run-up to the decision to buy the Tin Dunny, even going as far as to suggest some outright opposition to the idea. Whilst I have never found any documentary evidence to support this proposal, I did find an interesting letter, dated 15th August 2008, addressed to the Chairman of Somerton Town Council and signed by eight of the councillors (Although I'm not familiar with their signatures, the signatories to this request seem to have been Cllrs Deering, Medley,Smith (M), Bisgrove, Rees, Holland, Neale and Raybould):

Of itself, this is a pretty innocuous missive from a group of councillors requesting a public meeting to consult the community before a final decision is made to buy the Tin Dunny. In the circumstances, and given the complete lack of consultation with the community on the subject, these councillors seem to have been making an attempt to involve the wider community and make sure that the decision would not be Somerton Town Council's alone. (Whilst I wasn't present to witness the immediate response, it is reported that Tony Canvin went into mega-rant mode when news of the letter was communicated to him.)

The 'executive' response to this request for democracy is reflected in a three page document, produced by the Town Clerk at the instruction of Keenan & Canvin, and dated 19th August 2008, 4 days later. The first two pages are the usual self-justifying garbage that Keenan/Canvin had long been notorious for, but it is the third page of this 'document' that is the most interesting:

It is difficult to fully explain the pernicious and deceitful nature of this response to the request from a majority (no matter how small) of the Council .

Was this an effort to apply undue pressure to other members of the Town Council? Yes!

Was this an effort to ensure measured and balanced consideration of the Town Council's options? No! (There was not one single positive outcome proposed should the Town Council not agree to buy the Tin Dunny.)

Was this effort to influence the other Council members successful? Yes. When faced with the proposals a) to sell the Etsome Terrace land to Edgar Homes and, b) to buy the Tin Dunny from Edgar Builders, the Council voted unanimously in favour.

Questions have been asked about the EtsomeTerrace/Tin Dunny swap and these documents simply re-inforce the perception that all was not quite right. Its quite laughable that Canvin supported naming the Tin Dunny after Chris Edgar "because of wot he's done for this town." From my reading of the situation, Somerton was doing the Edgars a favour, not the other way around.

And remember, those 8 councillors were only asking for the community to have a chance to express a view. Would that have been so bad? Well, yes, it might have been, had the community opposed the purchase. So was that the reason that the community were excluded from having a say? Maybe the fact was that the deal was stitched-up and the community needed to be excluded because they might have said NO!

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly