Where is the younger generation of residents that has a long-term stake in Hemingbrough village prosperity? Is modern life simply too busy for them to consider standing for election?
Monday, 20 March 2017
Put Hemingbrough Parish Council under a microscope today and you will find a seething maelstrom of petty jealousies, rivalries and vendetta allegations. School playground passions are reaching fever pitch as the yearly ritual of ELEVEN Councillors choosing a Chairman approaches.
The eleven Councillors represent three village Gangs that separately do good work: Parish of Hemingbrough Historical Heritage Society (PHHHS), Hagg Lane Green Conservation Society (HHLGCHE) and the Hall for Hemingbrough Group (HfH). The Memorial Rose Garden and restoration of the Oldways projects of the PHHHS are perhaps the most valued of their recent achievements.
The pinnacle of power is Parish Council control with superior access to Selby District Council and subtle manipulation of the village agenda.
At the heart of each Gang is an ‘inner circle’ formed by a small, tight-knit group and a spouse or partner couple. The ‘spouse strategy’ is good for controlling votes but invariably irritates some gang members, especially if one has a casting vote in a tie. Recently, Hemingbrough had a Parish Council featuring the Chairman and his wife, and his political ally the ex-Chairman and his son. Residents put an end to that nonsense through the ballot box.
The HHLGCHE Gang has ex-Councillor McCann and wife. HHLGCHE is trying to stop the Parish Council gaining ownership of Hagg Lane Village Green. This gang lost three Councillors at the last elections. The PHHHS Gang has Councillor Jan Strelczenie and ex-Parish Councillor Sue Strelczenie. The HfH Gang has Councillor Procter and Councillor Carstairs.
It is hard to know which Councillor belongs to which Gang because some walk out after frequent rows about anything, like flagpoles. I think the following is correct, for now, but I could be wrong. Parish Chairman Strelczenie belongs to PHHHS Gang along with Councillors Kinsella and Stebbings. Vice- Chairman Procter and Councillor Chilvers did belong to the PHHHS but left. Procter is now with the HfH Gang along with Councillors Carstairs and Davidson. At least one Councillor says he turned down the offer to leave PHHHS for HfH. Councillor Harrison belongs to HHLGCHE where she is supported by Councillor Drew who correctly claims he is not a HHLGCHE member but has appeared in a gang publicity photo wearing a HHLGCHE badge! It is hard to know any Gang affiliation of the mostly silent Councillor Sedman.
Clever Councillor Chilvers was a member of HHLGCHE and PHHHS but he left both gangs. Now he is an Independent. See how he was treated at the March Parish Council in the following YouTube clip.
Respected, independent local farmer Keith Terry has not been a member of any the Gangs. Maybe that explains why he alone did not vote in last year’s ritual aimed at displacing Strelczenie.
Back to the fever pitch of the yearly ritual of ELEVEN Councillors choosing a Chairman.
The latest allegations are this week’s PHHHS meeting will use the spouse strategy to irritate further one member who may then resign from the Gang and Council creating a vacancy for another HfH Gang member to infiltrate the Council having collected 10 sponsors already with an HfH agreement not to contest re-election of the present Chairman, like they did last year, while HHLGCHE wants to field its own gang member to force a costly village election to avoid the blatantly unfair ‘co-option of mates’ alternative.
Where is the younger generation of residents that has a long-term stake in Hemingbrough village prosperity? Is modern life simply too busy for them to consider standing for election?
Sunday, 19 March 2017
How did he know that?
Hemingbrough Parish “Council had occupied the tip” at Hagg Lane Ponds since at least July 15th 1935, according to a previous minute book. Would that knowledge have strengthened the Council’s application to have the Green registered under ‘adverse possession’ rules? (See 10th March 2017 post below).
Councillors should stop bawling at each other, stop playing silly buggers, and seek the answers. Instead, they meet in secret session closed to the press and public, to further their fight with the Hagg Lane Conservation Group.
Didn’t the recent Selby District Council former Deputy CEO Jonathan Lund’s investigation of the relationship between them teach them a lesson? (More later).
31 March 1948“The disgraceful state of the Parish Tip in Hagg Lane was put before the Council the condition of which had worsened since the tip had been handed over to the R(ural) D(istrict) Council and after discussion it was proposed that the Sanitary Inspector be acquainted with the facts and asked that same should be kept in a tidier condition.”
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
15th March - a date famous for treachery when ‘friends’ who were his enemies stabbed Julius Caesar to death. (The reason why Theresa May postponed the planned Brexit trigger calendar. 13th March, Parliamentary ping-pong, 14th Queen’s assent, 15th Trigger? - NO, Prime Minister!)
Whatever you think of the Parish Council, it meets in public session every month and residents can quiz Councillors who asked for our votes. It protects our interests, spends our taxes, should sort out local problems and identify and exploit local development opportunities. The Council is open to public scrutiny: meetings can be filmed or recorded; accounts and minutes can be inspected and used in a law court. In these regards, it is unlike village interest groups such as those concerned with the playing fields, Hagg Lane Green or the Hall for Hemingbrough.
It is almost two years since the last Parish Council Elections. A new team asked for our votes and most Councillors pledged “to work together for the benefit of the community”. They offered a new start after eight dreadful years. How are they doing half way through their term?
Here is my educated guess about what Chairman Jan Strelczenie sees when he chairs the Council each month? He has not contributed any thoughts to this guess, which is based on my observations and video recordings.
He arrives early at the Methodist Church Hall for the public session of the Council. If I am there, he knows I will record the Council by video-cam and may publish excerpts on YouTube. Hemingbrough was one of the first parish councils filmed under new rules, if not the first. Brian Hopper, the previous Parish Clerk, must be thanked for that. He spilled the beans – Councillors are frightened of your written notes because they cannot remember what lies they have told you! Chairman Strelczenie admits to having had concerns about the new video-cam rules. To his credit, he has a firm grip on the Council and has not been embarrassed on the film recordings, so he must be doing well as Chairman.
Our Parish Chairman is a rough-diamond, exemplary type of man getting things done in the British Army - a Sergeant Major. My Uncle, a Regimental Sergeant Major, says all successful ones must be handy with their fists and their gobs, especially in Yorkshire. The recent issue of ‘No Village bus service if no yellow lines’ needed his no-nonsense style. The needs of some gobby residents with personal reasons for or against yellow lines had to be balanced against the possible loss of our bus service. Nobody else on the Council could have done it. He brings his ‘no nonsense’ style to a variety of matters - The ‘20’s Plenty’ speeding on Landing Lane, the far end of the village entrance, village-wide heritage area, dog excrement, the cycle and footpath to Brackenholme.
When Strelczenie takes the Council Chair and looks at the other ten Councillors, maybe “Dad’s Army” enters his mind. No Village Plan. Nobody there capable of writing one. Remnants of the disastrous Councils that preceded this one. Stakes that lie outside the Council. Thwarted political ambitions. Too few Councillors committed to their pledge. Could anyone else do better, or as well? Another attempt to unseat him?
From his ‘team’ of Councillors, three remnants of the Old Guard did not offer the pledge to work together, even though that is expected. Councillors Drew and Harrison sit at the table, mostly silent, with arms resolutely crossed. Curmudgeonly Drew often seems to be sleeping, or maybe thinking ‘How soon can we get out of here?’ His redeeming feature is the occasional contribution, which is in excess of anything heard from Harrison. Their body language shrieks of lack of enthusiasm and involvement. The genial Councillor Sedman, when his working shifts permit, says very little at all!
Maybe Strelczenie looks at Vice-Chairman, Bob Procter. By title, a Councillor serving in the Chairman’s absence, a person who assists him, his second-in-command, number two or right-hand man. From the public seats, there is little evidence of that, maybe it is the same from the Chairman’s seat? ‘Antipathy’ springs to mind.
Procter is most lively when describing ‘The Hall for Hemingbrough’ project. Residents may think the idea of a Village Hall should have something to do with the Parish Council. It does not, even though village businesses and church fund raising could be damaged! In the first year of this Council regime, a new Village Hall was not discussed in the Council until a resident asked ‘Why not?’ Facebook was the preferred way Procter communicated with the residents. The Parish Council appeared to have no place in the early development of a new community hall.
Procter’s short monthly update appears on the Council agenda each month. Strangely, it is included in a list of Council activities, as if to give it greater legitimacy, despite the Chairman’s remarks of ‘IT’S NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PARISH COUNCIL’.
In January, the Council had to discuss “Outline application for residential development of up to 21 dwellings on land to the east of Street Record, School Road, Hemingbrough.” It is a vital subject for residents. Together with another planning application, 40+ plus houses may be built near the Howden entrance to the village. That entrance is notorious for anyone slowing down on the busy trunk road to turn left. Should the Council endorse the application? Should that nearby village entrance be improved, maybe with a roundabout? Is it safe? If not, how will another 40 houses affect traffic past the schools and in Finkle Street? Is it outside the permitted building area? Will ‘Section 106’ money from the developers finance a roundabout, or another Parish Council community project?
When the Chairman called the item, his Vice-Chairman, together with his partner, Councillor Carstairs, and Councillor Davidson left the room. Apparently, they thought they had conflicting interests arising from their private ‘The Hall for Hemingbrough’ venture.
Will the trio be competing with the Parish Council for ‘Section 106’ funds? If their project ever sees the light of day, and is at that end of the village, will they just ignore the extra traffic on School Road? A quarter of the Parish Council unable to discuss the vital interests of residents is not good!
When Chairman Strelczenie dealt with the sudden departure of the trio, maybe he thought of the Council meeting in May last year when Councillors Procter, Carstairs, Davidson and Chilvers voted to replace him with Procter taking the Chair.
Maybe he recalled that Councillor Procter is the Council’s ‘Yorkshire Local Councils Association (Selby Branch) Rep’ & ‘Community Engagement Forum Rep’, and Councillor Davidson is the ‘Hemingbrough Institute & Playing Fields Committee Rep’, the ‘Community Engagement Forum Rep’ and the ‘Yorkshire Local Councils Association (Selby Branch) Rep’.
From the Public seats, and maybe from the Chairman’s seat, the Councillors appearing fully engaged with Council business, and their election pledge, even if they have different opinions, are Councillor Chilvers, Kinsella, Stebbings, Strelczenie and Terry – five from eleven. It is not good enough.
Councillors will by now be thinking of the May 2017 Council meeting when they must vote for officers and committee members for the coming year.
If Councillor Strelczenie remains as Parish Chairman, he needs a new, fully committed Vice Chairman and more Councillors enthusiastically doing what they were elected to do!
Friday, 10 March 2017
For those asking how long the Parish Council has been using the Hagg lane Ponds.
Hemingbrough township in 1841 comprised 867 acres of arable land, 173 of meadow and pasture, and 53 of wood, waste, orchards and gardens. Remaining commonable lands were inclosed in 1844 under the general Inclosure Act of 1836. Some roadside verges were used in common by the inhabitants. Forty-seven people, the ‘Common Righters’ with rights of pasturage for example, had 73 common rights in Hagg Lane, Old Ways and elsewhere in 1895.
From the Hemingbrough Parish Council Minutes of 29 March 1939.
Mr Trimble on behalf of the Common Rights put forward his claim for four years rent for 6d per annum for the use of Hagg Lane Ponds to be used by the Parish Council as a refuse tip. This had been previously overlooked since the Council had occupied the tip.
A minute to the effect that the Council pay a yearly sum of 6d for the ground to be used as a refuse tip was passed on July 15th 1935 in a previous minute book.
For adoption (various Parish Council transactions, including)
Wm Thackray for cleaning up refuse tip 7/6d
D Tremble Refuse Tip rent 4 years at 6d per year 2/-
Mr Tremble moved the adoption of the above accounts seconded by Mr Curzon and carried.
For those asking about the 'Silly Buggers'
Thursday, 9 March 2017
We can’t own it. We don’t want the Parish Council to own it - Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group (1)
6 March 2017
Dear Chairman Strelczenie,
Thank you for your reply to my enquiry of 8 February 2017.
I invite you to give a full account at the next public session of the Parish Council of the efforts to “register Hagg Lane Green”.
The Council’s questionable decision to exclude the Public and Press from part of its December 2016 meeting has become a village farce. Councillors justified the exclusion because “a local group that had posted a cautionary notice on the application.”
The Press and Public cannot get details from the Parish Clerk because Councillors chose to discuss the registration in secret. They can get information directly from Ken McCann of the Hagg Lane Green Conservation Society or from the ‘village grapevine’.
McCann’s portrayal of the matter is the Conservation Society cannot get ownership of the land and doesn’t want the Parish Council to own it. The Society acted on the cautionary note and didn’t send a copy to the Parish Council because ‘We didn’t have to, so we didn’t’.
You confirmed Councillor Harrison was present but “did not get involved in the discussion at either of the meetings.” After the secret session, she must have known both sides of the argument about the ownership debate. She is a long serving member of the Conservation Society, as is McCann who failed to gain a Council seat two years ago.
Presumably, after the secret session, she could have conveyed the Council’s thoughts and plans to the Conservation Group.
Presumably, Councillors discussed the Conservation Group’s objection on 15 December 2016. If it mentioned the village lawnmower that caused a Council rumpus some years ago, it will verify the village ‘grape vine’ on Christmas day.
Surely, applying for registration of land under “adverse possession” is a public process. Statutory declarations from neighbours or other third parties covering all matters of relevance may be useful as corroborative evidence.
I cannot believe the very limited circumstances under which Press and Public are excluded from Council business apply in this matter. Indeed, I argue that it is to the benefit of the Council and Public that they must be fully informed about the matter. They may have relevant information for or against the application, and there may be financial consequences now and for years to come.
Most of the Parish Councillors campaigned on the “needs to change and we aspire to the following: Openness and honesty.” Your views …. “need to be represented in a fair and honest manner to ensure that the Village benefits from unbiased opinions and actions.”
I support the Parish Council’s efforts to register Hagg Lane Green as an asset for the village of Hemingbrough. I do not like how the Council is managing the process. How do Councillors know if public knowledge of local history gained from archives and libraries includes relevant information?
We can’t own it. We don’t want the Parish Council to own it - Hagg Lane Green Conservation Group (2)
This is why the Parish Council went into secret session in December, questionably invoking a device to exclude the Public and the Press.
Why would a few residents who organise the excellent Winter Wonderland oppose Chairman Jan Strelczenie’s Parish Council vision?
Link Hagg Lane Green, the Village Pond, the Memorial Garden and the Oldways into an unmatched local heritage and conservation area featuring an outdoor classroom, memorial walk and quiet contemplation area protected against commercial development in perpetuity.
I think less selfish people would contribute their undoubted conservation expertise to the wider village scheme.
The Hagg Lane Green Wars continue. I’m not surprised three long serving Parish Councillors, Messrs. McCann, Senior and Pickering, failed to regain their seats at the last Parish Election. They were Members of the Hagg Lane Green Group that came to dominate Council business for years. Unlike the Parish Council, this private group is not subject to public scrutiny. Even the Parish Clerk was surprised some “£50,000 of public money” could be spent without the public being able to look at the accounts.
One of the last straws that hastened the decline of the Conservation Group on the Council was Councillor Senior playing silly buggers. He would not reveal the identity of the person dumping commercial enterprise evergreen clippings on the Hagg Lane village green. The Conservation Group admitted later that it had given one of its own Members permission to dump the shreddings. With no ownership rights, they gave the Parish Council no chance to comment on or agree their plan, preferring mystery instead.
Only the mostly mute Councillor Harrison of the Conservation Group retains her “vegetable plot” seat on the Council. She is “supported” by the presence of former Councillor McCann in the public seats at most meetings.
When the Hagg Lane Green Gang and their friends dominated the Council for four years until 2015, they disgraced themselves spectacularly. With interest rates at an all time low, lacking ideas or ambition, they built up the Council reserves in the bank. The Council’s Auditor criticised them for not spending the precept – our money - on schemes to benefit residents. While residents contributed money, goods and labour to the Memorial Garden and Oldways projects, they offered nothing from bloated parish funds.
In spectacular fashion, they shot themselves in the foot! The campaigned for re-election with ‘more of the same’, and carped on about vendettas and plots.
N.B. “Vegetable Plot” Seat? I coined the term years ago after watching Councillors Harrison and Senior in particular sitting through countless Council meetings. They added virtually nothing to the general discussions except in planning session when they poked their noses into people’s housing plans. They stirred into life for Hagg Lane discussions: they waited for Councillor McCann to vote on a proposal, and then voted likewise.
Sunday, 22 January 2017
Waking from hibernation, it’s hard to differentiate between dreams, nightmares and reality. A short stroll in Main Street on Christmas morning cleared my head. That ****** lawnmower is back in conversations again nine years after it exploded into a Council meeting. So are the £5.00 and £10.00 notes given to Senior Citizens at Christmas until a few years ago.
The January Parish Council confirmed it. Testosterone-fuelled tensions are rising. Old stags are gathering their hinds for the symbolic mating. Bellowing and roars cross the Council table. As the May Rut confirms or appoints a new Council Chairman, the clashing of horny antlers will be heard for a few months.
Politically astute Chairman Strelczenie pushes ahead with village housekeeping and improvements while some colleagues grind their axes. Regular visitors to the Bear Garden public gallery can spot four factions. Those who want to keep the hardened Old Stag. Those planning to oust him. The Hagg Lane Green Group Protection Fanatics. The private venture Village Hall Group sometimes mistaken for a Council Committee. There aren’t many who genuinely get on with all the parish responsibilities without axes.
Until May, residents cannot be sure which agenda topics genuinely concern residents, and which are part of the ritual, rutting season.
The Council shut the public out of a pre-rut warm-up by declaring discussions of the Village Green Registration Update were not for their ears. They waited until the December meeting was underway before declaring their decision instead of listing it in advance on the agenda. Their ploy suggests they were about to discuss a topic during which they may breach a legal obligation to keep information confidential. Alternatively, they may have simply decided they didn’t want the public to know what was going on, which they shouldn’t do! Either way, they let the cat out of the bag. The Hagg Lane Green Wars may have entered a new phase. The private Hagg Lane Green Group wants to own the land already registered as a Hemingbrough Village Green.
A Councillor mumbled about it at the January meeting which sounded like ‘no progress’ but it was hard to hear in the public gallery. Deliberately so? This topic brought ‘the Lawnmower’ back into village conversations. (More later).
The innocuously described agenda item 8(i) “United Charities” must have been part of the rutting ritual. At least one Councillor must have wanted this surprising agenda addition to be discussed in public. It harks back to the requirement for the Council to curtail involvement in the Hemingbrough United Charities (Registered Number 224203). The Council has the lawful right only to recruit and appoint Trustees when the Charity formally notifies it there is a vacancy.
The Press reported the Council’s inapt connection that brought the ‘Grandiosh of Tosh’ to prominence and revealed the subsequent shenanigans. Anyone wondering why it surfaced again will have to rely on the village grapevine as the Item was withdrawn without discussion.
Maybe the Letter to the Council distributed to Councillors with the agenda (see below for excerpt) was the reason. Maybe it reminded them of the official Parish Council statement that remains on file and their role in withdrawing the Christmas money.
“Statement from the Chairman of the Parish Council, December 2011”
“Many of you will already be aware that the Parish Council turned down the donation request from Hemingbrough United Charities for £1000 this year and I would like to take this opportunity to explain the reasons for this decision which are twofold.
Firstly, following an investigation by external auditors, as a result of concerns raised by a resident, they reported ‘we have concluded that the procedural approach taken by the Council may have resulted in an unlawful item of expenditure’.
The Council clearly must take responsibility for the part they played in agreeing donations in previous years. Secondly, there had been concerns raised by the Charity Commission itself regarding how the Hemingbrough United Charities was being administered. They advised that the Charity was in breach of its Constitution by setting an age limit for recipients - the Charity was for ”the poor", and poor people come in all ages not just when they get to 70 years old.
The Parish Council will, of course, continue to support this worthwhile cause when these issues have been resolved and the Charity is being managed in line with its Constitution.
Kristina Wilkinson. Chairman, Hemingbrough Parish Council”
Anything is possible during the rut! Here is a reminder of the 2016 Rut.
I think it was very fortunate that Councillor Procter did not take over the Council. This view is of the January 2017 Council discussing a planning application for 21+ dwellings on land to the east of School Lane. Councillor Procter and two of his colleagues, a quarter of the Council, are outside the room having declared "interests" in that application. Someone remarked that Procter's scheme to build a village hall might involve the same land wanted for housing.
(To be continued)
Monday, 9 January 2017
Friday, 17 June 2016
Admission that will shock residents.
Council Chairman Jan Strelczenie invites his Deputy to tell the Council what’s going on at that independent working group that includes three Members of the Parish Council (Procter, Davidson & Carstairs) not wearing their Council hats who hadn’t briefed their eight Council colleagues about probably the most important community project concerning Hemingbrough Village until prompted to do so at the Council’s Annual Meeting in May despite an election pledge of “committed to working together for the community”. (16 June 2016)
Some Members of this Council need to remember the pledges that earned them votes.
(To be continued)
Monday, 11 May 2015
Democracy is alive in our village.
CONTESTED PARISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS (6)
Brayton, Hambleton, Hemingbrough, Selby (North), Selby (South) Selby (West)
UNCONTESTED PARISH COUNCIL ELECTIONS (63)
Parishes where there were fewer Candidates than available seats so everyone putting forward their name was ‘elected’ without a contest!
4 Year term. 11 Council Seats. 15 Candidates
CARSTAIRS, Elizabeth 545 Votes
CHILVERS, Roland Bernard 460
TERRY, Keith William 443
STEBBINGS, Leslie John 442
HARRISON, Glenis Mary 414
PROCTER, Robert 397
DAVIDSON, Forbes Thomas 395
STRELCZENIE, Jan 393
SEDMAN, John Stephen 376
KINSELLA, Edward John 375
DREW, Richard Haldane 370
McCANN, Kenneth William 350 (Not Elected)
SENIOR, Martin Gregory 342 (Not Elected)
PARKIN, Victor William 323 (Not Elected)
PICKERING, Neil Charles 285 (Not Elected)
Thursday, 7 May 2015
05:16 7 May 2015.
Will it be a bright new day for the village? Eleven Parish Council seats are at stake.
The choice seems simple from reading the election leaflets.
‘The Village Memorial and Oldways Crew’
Nine residents “Pledged to be of strong moral principles; honesty and decency in Parish Council Affairs with a programme for better Communication with residents, the Village Entrance, Village Memorial Garden, ‘Oldways’, using the Precept for Improvements and Services, Transport, Local Issues, Hagg Lane Green, Accountability, Consultation and Working Together”
The nine candidates “fully support the current Official Investigation into the Probity of the Parish Council dealings with the Hagg Lane Green Group.”
Liz Carstairs, Roland Chilvers, Forbes Davidson, Eddie Kinsella, Vic Parkin, Bob Proctor, Les Stebbings, Jan Strelczenie, Keith Terry.
‘The Hagg Lane Green Group’
Six residents who controlled the Council proposals by their bloc voting for the past four years and who want “to run the Parish Council” for the next four years with not a single item of Improvement in their election literature, just a commitment “to keep the precept at the same level by using the reserves accrued” by their inaction.
The Hagg Lane Green Group denied the Village Memorial Rose Garden even a tiny donation despite a formal request from a resident for them to do so! Personal animosities got in their way.