Kimberley council slammed for “disgraceful bullying”

Kimberley Parish Hall, Newdigate Street
Kimberley Parish Hall, Newdigate Street

Kimberley town council has been criticised for bad conduct after a heated meeting to discuss the Cemetery Chapel.

Members of the public said they were “appalled by the lack of freedom of speech” during the council’s last Amenities and Estates meeting on march 12, and one called acting chairman Jim MacDonald a “dictator”.

John Sisson, a retiree from the town, said: “I attended a council meeting last night to see democracy in action.

“What I witnessed was the illegal bullying and harrassment of council member Kat Boettge.

“He was disgustingly horrendous and what made it whose was that the other councillors sat by and allowed it to happen.

“Labour in Kimberley is a disgrace and needs removing from office for the good of the community they hold in disdain,” he said on Facebook.

Cllr McDonald said: “I had cause in my role as Chairman to interrupt councillor(s) on a number of occasions, I also had cause to direct some members of the public regarding their behaviour which at times was unacceptable and not appropriate.”

He called for order during a heated debate from Shane Easom of Kimberley Residents Association.

Mr Easom, a former council chairman, said: “People are debating a petition to try to stop you doing what you’re doing to the chapel - let’s talk about the £11,500 you spent on the Faithful and Gould which you decided to ignore.

When interrupted Mr Easom said: “I haven’t finished yet.”

Cllr McDonald replied: “You will not be allowed to finish your question unless you lower your voice.”

When asked if he had received positive petition responses to the proposed plan of restoring the chapel Cllr McDonald said: “We didn’t need to because people were extraordinarily positive.”

KTC voted on March 12 against a petition to hold off on plans to modernise the town’s historic Cemetery Chapel – leaving campaigners disgruntled.

The council voted on the validity of the petition after being told to accept the list of hundreds of signatures despite many coming from outside the area.

During discussions, attendees witnessed shouting matches between the A&E chair Jim McDonald and Green Party Councillor Kat Boettge, leading Cllr MacDonald to threaten the termination fo the meeting.

Ms Boettge said she was regularly interrupted to the point of being “bullied”.

Green Party councillor Kat Boettge said there was much disappointment with the decision, which was slammed for still only representing a minority in the town.

She added: “It looks as though basically we didn’t make it. But it’s wrong for them to reject the petition because “only” 850 people signed - you don’t win an election based on the number of people who don’t vote for your opponant.”

But the plan may still be delayed until after the coming election, leaving the council’s action open for the next set of members to decide.

Ms Boettge added: “David Nunn has told me they have still not done the background work, getting quotes etcetera, so our campaigning may have delayed it enough to stop it.”