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Hertford Town Council- Problems with Councillors and Transparency

Some may think I am slightly naïve, but I have always maintained that the vast majority of politicians are decent hard working individuals. It was only a few bad apples giving politicians a bad name, only a minority had their hand in their till and filling their pockets. This week my own trust in politicians in central and local government has been challenged.

After the MPs' expenses scandals, the PM agreed to fix the situation by increasing transparency. Central Government understanding of 'transparency' turned out to be releasing MPs' invoices/receipt by blacking out most of the information. The Hertfordshire Mercury reported on Friday 19th June that Hertford Town Council were refusing to release information on how they spent public money and one of their councillors, John Hedley, was being investigated for misconduct.

Hertfordshire Mercury recently revealed that Hertford Town Council spent £36,3777.85 on legal fees in 2007/2008, but HTC refused to disclose details. This is an obscene amount of public money and the residents of Hertford have a right to know how their money is being spent. It is disturbing that our elected representatives in the Town Council are clearly withholding information from us.

Cllr John Hedley, who is a member of East Herts District Council and Hertford Town Council, will be investigated by the Complaints Committee at East Herts District Council for breaching the Councillors' Code of Contract. This is not the first time his behaviour has come into question. Last year he was suspended from Hertford Town Council for three months for being abusive. If the investigation concludes against Cllr Hedley again, he should resign to maintain his own dignity and the reputation of both East Herts District Council and Hertford Town Council.

Hertford Town Council is currently accredited as a Quality Town Council by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Our local council has undoubtedly had numerous achievements such as an active established Youth Town Council. But the latest scandals threaten its reputation and risk losing its Quality status.

For a Town/Parish council to achieve Quality Status, they must meet ten different criteria set by the NALC, including Test Six- Accountability. The NALC website describes this measure as 'to ensure that all Quality parish and town councils maintain accurate and transparent financial arrangements'. I personally don't see that withholding information on how £36,000 public money was spent is either transparent or promotes accountability.

Whilst I still believe that the vast majority of councillors are committed and are doing an excellent job, some are clearly not up to scratch. There are currently two vacant seats on Hertford Town Council, one as a result of the former Councillor Sacha Bright being expelled for not attending a single council meeting in six months. Ironically on his blog for Mr Bright's company EJ Creative, he states that he is 'an active member of Hertford Town Council'. The other vacant seat is as a result of the resignation of former councillor John Cook.

Hertford Town Council is currently emblazed in political scandals and risks losing the confidence of Hertford residents. In the next few days candidates will be announced for the two vacant seats and the  by-election will take place on Tuesday 21st July.   Recent events have showed that voting for a political party is by no means a guarantee of a person's suitability or integrity; Cllr Hedley and Sacha Bright were both members of the Conservative Party.

It is surprising that leaders of the local Conservative Party have not deselected Cllr Hedley, would you really want to be associated with such an abusive individual? We hope that this election will be an opportunity for local people to vote for a person, rather than a party. Surely two Independent Councillors would benefit Hertford Town Council.

22/06/2010 - 11:23 by James

If you look at Dunn&Braddstreet or Duport, you have to buy a credit report for about £12, you will see that HCC has County Court Judgements registered against their name. Twenty in all at the moment. I have tried to find out who, what and why through Freedom of Information Act but it was deemed as ''not in the public interest'' for this information to be released. These CCJ's are made by other County Councils, mostly, or phone companies installing telephone masts given permission by local authority then being instructed to move them when people complain.

Finally, you should ask yourself why are our local councils operated like ''companies'' investing your council tax money overseas??? First and foremost, companies are what is uncommonly known as Mortmain, or ''dead hand''. They do not exist. They only exist on paper. How can a registered company, for profit....only exist on paper, excert authority over humans to pay ''taxes''? Your legal personality is a good place to start.

22/06/2010 - 21:12 by Cllr Martin Brookes

Hertford sounds  like Oakham I am fighting from the inside, a bunch of elite tories control the town council and the are true bullies.

Oakham Town Council is current holding the record for complaints

STANDARDS for England is to investigate 41 complaints concerning councillors on Oakham Town Council. Rutland Mercury

My Blog




10/09/2010 - 13:58 by Theunis Viljoen

You can also view East Hert's payments to suppliers over £500 on BIOLAP's free Council Expenses Dashboard at -

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