Town council vows to change process

NEAALM101103D1 - Eastwood. Brian Fretwell outside his old shop on South Street
NEAALM101103D1 - Eastwood. Brian Fretwell outside his old shop on South Street

Eastwood town councillors have vowed to change their processes after members of the public were forced to sit through an hour and a half of administration at the start of a meeting this week.

Councillors took 75 minutes to approve minutes of previous meetings while residents waited to quiz the council on Monday night.

People in the public gallery could be heard huffing and puffing as four sets of minutes were scrutinised with every spelling correction pointed out.

Council leader David Bagshaw admitted the hour and a quarter taken to go through and approve the minutes was ‘horrendous’ and said in future public question time will be the first item on the agenda, to save the public sitting through the administration items.

But one Eastwood resident at the meeting let rip at councillors and urged them to concentrate on helping the town instead of bickering amongst themselves.

Brian Fretwell told councillors at a public meeting on Monday night he thought the public wanted the council to help the community and not let politics and arguments get in the way.

Mr Fretwell said: “You are here for the people. You are here to represent the people of the town and do the best for them.

“I’ve been in meetings where one councillor has walked out in tears. In another, one councillor threatened another with the standards board. This arguing and messing about needs to be brought under control.

“At the moment, if you take a photo of Eastwood in 2007 and one in 2011 and ask people to tick off what has improved in those years you wouldn’t have to sharpen your pencil too many times.”

Mr Fretwell, who is Eastwood born and bred, suggested the leaders of both parties, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party, sat down with councillors following the May elections to talk through ways of improving how the council is run.

The meeting chair, Eastwood Mayor Brian Griffin, said: “This council has never hid behind anything.

“It’s not easy to be a chair and not easy to control it, but we do live in a democratic society where we allow cross-chamber discussion.

“People have to understand that this council has to abide by Government legislation and rules and laws.

“Yes, there has been occasions where it has got heated. But we are here as volunteers and we do our best.”