Plan errors do not reflect well on town council

Date: Monday 25th February 2019

AS vice-chairman of the town council and deputy mayor of Penrith, I have spent countless unpaid hours on council business and working on and chairing the Penrith neighbourhood development plan (PNDP) group, to which many citizens of the town have given of their knowledge and expertise.

I am very concerned that the officers charged with preparing the PNDP booklet, which was widely distributed earlier in the month to all households and businesses in the parish, allowed it to be published with a whole policy (Policy 14 shop fronts) missing.

Together with other layout and grammatical errors, this does not reflect at all well on the competence of the town council, not least at a time when it is trying to persuade residents that it is worthwhile standing for election as town councillors.

I suggested to the town clerk that, in order to avoid confusion for those completing the questionnaire, the council should print Policy 14 in full and distribute it to those who had received the flawed PNDP booklet.

In truth, the whole booklet should be reprinted, with all the errors and omissions corrected, but council expenditure is high enough as it is.

A press release could have explained the background but my request for this was turned down.

I am disappointed that the chairman of the town council then submitted a somewhat ambiguous letter (Herald, 16th February) almost implying that the omission was deliberate, and in any case was of interest to business owners only, when the aim of the consultation is to engage everyone with all the draft policies.

By now it will be clear to anyone reading this letter that the town clerk and her deputy took control of the development of the PNDP booklet and survey, checking for errors, proof-reading and publication, to the exclusion of the chairman of the group.

I am seriously considering, having given countless voluntary hours to the development of the PNDP, whether I should devote any more of my spare time to a town council whose standards are so far below what residents are entitled to expect in return for what they pay through their council tax.


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