Recently, one of our correspondents sent this letter to the Clerk to the Council of Bathampton Parish Council about several serious allegations made by Keith Rossiter and councillors from Claverton and Monkton Combe.
He received this reply;
From: Dr D P Smith, Clerk to Bathampton Parish Council
Thank you for your e-mail of October 20.
The remarks which you quote were not made at a meeting with British
Waterways but at a separate meeting of Parish Councillors from several
parishes, and local residents. Cllr. Rossiter agreed to write the minutes
but is, of course, not responsible for everything that was said at the
Bathampton Parish Council has no powers of enforcement regarding British
Waterways licence conditions, environmental health issues, or matters which
are properly the concern of the police. Whether it is British Waterways’
intention to pursue any of these matters, or whether BANES Environmental
Services department will do so is not known to us.
We can therefore not confirm that these allegations are “the true position
of Bathampton Parish Council” but we can confirm that Cllr. Rossiter is
authorised by Bathampton Parish Council to liaise with British Waterways.
Cllr. Rossiter’s minutes are not “the true voice of the Parish Council” but
they are a record of what was said at the meeting.
Not satisfied with this evasive reply, our plucky correspondent has been forced to take a rather sterner tone with Dr Smith
Dear Mr Smith
Thank you for your reply.
I am sorry but I find your reply evasive and therefore I must press you on a few points. I will remind you of the tenets of open government and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which applies just as much to a Parish Council as to central Government.
The portion of the minutes in which these allegations are made is headed ‘Parish Councils’ Perspective on Canal Issues’ and was attended by representatives from 3 parishes, Claverton, Monkton Combe and Bathampton, with 3 of the 6 members from Bathampton. Keith Rossiter was the only parish council member from Bathampton at the meeting.
Therefore this first section must logically be the views of one or all of the three councils. I shall be writing to the clerks of Claverton and Monkton Combe Parish Councils with the same questions.
My copy of these minutes was obtained through British Waterways and therefore I must conclude that these minutes were made with the passing information to British Waterways.
So I must ask you again. Does Bathampton Parish Council stand by these allegations made under the heading ‘Parish Councils’ Perspective on Canal Issues’?
If you do not stand by these allegations, I ask that you state, for the purposes of clarity that you, Bathampton Parish Council do not make these allegations against person or persons unknown.
It must be clear to you as an intelligent man and as an officer of the Parish Council that to place these allegations before British Waterways under this heading can only lead to the presumption that this is the official view of the whole council. Further these allegation were placed under a heading which would appear to exclude the 2 ordinary residents of Bathampton.
I would also ask what steps you, or anyone within the Parish Council have taken to establish the truth or otherwise of these very serious allegations?
We will keep you posted as and when the good doctor replies.