Shaftesbury Town councillors have agreed a 0% rise in their portion of the Dorset Council tax for the year ahead. On Thursday, they signed off the budget for the year ahead.
But Cllr Karen Tippins presented a list of reasons why she didn’t want the plan adopted. The figures didn’t reveal the information on staff salaries that she has been demanding for months.
Cllr Alex Chase told her that the council’s HR committee is aware of individual salaries but not all councillors are told how much each employee earns. Mayor Andy Hollingshead said the council reveals salary bands, as they are required to do, and no employee earns more than £50,000 annually. The majority of councillors didn’t support Cllr Tippins’ objection.
Cllr Tippins then wanted to delay budget setting, to allow for an investigation into the legality of the town council’s plan to support Shaftesbury Football Club’s artificial pitch using a government-backed loan. She wanted this report to determine whether there was any conflict of interest between town councillors and SFC directors. Again, Cllr Tippins failed to convince the meeting to support her. Cllr Chase said the process was legally sound.
‘Section 106’ money from The Maltings estate developer Persimmon will fund much of the new A30 allotments. Cllr Tippins wanted the £25,000 the town council had set aside for these works to go towards new play equipment at Gower Road. The cash could also fund a £10,000 scheme to replace the Jubilee Steps railings, she said.
Cllr John Lewer has promoted the rails replacement project, but he was clear that he didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise the allotments. Cllr George Hall cautioned that the council should not redirect the allotment budget money yet, because additional costs may emerge.
Cllr Alex Chase presented a compromise – any surplus money from the £25,000 allotment allocation can purchase new playpark kit for Gower Road and pay for the railings. The council accepted that.
Cllr Lewer didn’t think there would be enough money for the Jubilee Steps, though. Councillors agreed that cash could be diverted from town council accounts to top-up the funds, if necessary.
Much meeting time was taken up by Cllr Yeo’s interruptions and accusations. He was repeatedly warned to stop. Cllr Yeo claims that the town council has no right to kick him out of the Zoom meetings when he doesn’t follow the meeting chairman’s request not to interrupt.
Cllr Yeo argued that eviction from meetings contradicts EU law and infringes his human rights. The Mayor has previously stated that this is not the case. Once again, councillors voted to exclude Cllr Yeo because he was disruptive, and the mayor apologised to members of the public watching the webcast for the argument they had witnesses.
Cllr John Lewer suggested that future meeting minutes should give a clear account of why Cllr Yeo is voted out of meetings. He said it would be ‘sensible’ to record that Cllr Yeo ‘was required to leave because of his contempt for the system, the standing orders, the code of conduct and the chairman of the meeting’. John said, “It would be an accurate description.”
Standing orders are the council’s set of rules that govern process.