A ROW has broken out between Dodderhill Parish Council and its parishioners who claim the authority is trying to ‘steal’ Wychbold Village Hall.
Some residents also say the authority is not representing their best interests and a petition which already has 160 signatures is calling for a community governance review to get the parish council disbanded. Email Kaylea Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org for more on the petition and how to sign it.
A heated extraordinary meeting of the council on Zoom on Tuesday night featured angry scenes as members of the public expressed frustration as they tried to get questions answered.
The parish council took over running the village hall last November so it could apply for a grant from Wychavon District Council’s legacy fund for the venue’s much-needed refurbishment.
Prior to that it was run by a charity, its trustees and a committee and campaigners claim a temporary management agreement was proposed until April when it would be terminated and a new one drawn up.
Now there is a dispute over ownership of the hall.
Dodderhill Parish Council owns the land the hall is on but until it took it over for the funding application the charity operated it, using fund-raising events to pay for its day-to-day running and any required maintenance work.
One resident said the petition showed the strength of public feeling in that villagers would rather have no parish council than the current one.
Dale Mason, a former trustee, committee member and ex-parish councillor, said he felt the council was so focused on trying to prove ownership of the village hall it was not ensuring the venue’s best use.
“There are some councillors who work well but parishioners have lost faith in other members and feel they are not acting in their best interests or the community’s.”
He added he wanted to see the issues surrounding the village hall resolved as quickly as possible for the good of everyone living in the area.
“We have a fantastic building created for the good of everyone in the community but it is currently not being used to fulfil that aim.”
Coun Alyson Keane, chairman of Dodderhill Parish Council, said: “The village hall committee did not want to be involved in the upgrade and requested we give them 30 days notice which is what was done following a vote during a parish council meeting.
She denied the parish council wanted sole ownership of the building, adding it was happy for the charity be involved but said nothing could be done until the refurbishment had been carried out and an insurance claim for the back store room, affected by subsidence, had been dealt with.
“The solicitors will draw up a new tenancy agreement once everything is done so everyone knows their roles and what they are responsible for.”
She said she was aware of the petition but was waiting to hear from Wychavon District Council which dealt with community governance reviews before responding.
It was accepted at the meeting communication between the parish council and a small number of residents had broken down.
Coun Keane said a committee was being formed and a ‘Terms of Reference’ would be put forward at December’s meeting to ascertain the best way the authority could engage with the public.