Holbeach Parish Council offices

Council’s apology over transparency

A parish council has apologised for ‘not being as transparent as we’d like to be’ while pledging to improve its area in the future.

Holbeach Parish Council has received criticism after The Voice revealed in December it had made two payments totalling over £27,000 to recipients whose names were blanked out in financial documents. The council also entered into a legal non-disclosure agreement with an unnamed party.

At the time the council announced cost-cutting measures and a 4.55 per cent increase in the council tax.

Criticism over the payments and lack of transparency has continued on social media.

In response, last week the council put out a statement apologising.

It says: “As the current council year comes to a close in May, Holbeach Parish council would like to address the issues of transparency that have been brought up by recent events.

“As a council we understand why members of the public want answers, and that many are not happy with the level of transparency on this issue.

“We want to reassure everyone that we are listening to your concerns but unfortunately, we cannot provide any more information on this particular matter. As a council it is our legal duty to comply with data protection and that sometimes means there is information we cannot make public.

“For this matter in particular, we are statutory barred under the Freedom of Information Act section 40.

“We do apologise for not being as transparent as we would like to be on this issue, but we have ensured that we have published the maximum amount of information that we are legally allowed to.

“However, we are committed to improving transparency within the council and there are several changes we are making to achieve this.”

As previously reported, the council has been working with the Lincolnshire Association of Local Councils to ensure it is now following best practices.

However, it has also been hit by in-fighting with the chairman Graham Rudkin resigning this month saying he’d become disillusioned.

His replacement was not discussed at the most recent meeting which was overseen by vice chairman John Spencer.

The council’s next full meeting is on Tuesday (May 4).

The statement continued: “The council agreed at our April meeting to restructure ourselves from May, with committees responsible for various areas like open spaces and events.

“All these meetings will be open to the public and all minutes will be published on our website. We hope this will ensure greater transparency in the workings of the council, between our full council meetings.

“We will be launching a survey for young people in Holbeach to find out what new equipment they would like to see in our parks.

“This is just the start for public engagement and we hope to build on it in future.

“We hope to be able to work more with the community to improve our town and surrounding villages. “

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