A long standing member of Ruddington Parish Council has spoken out about why he quit his key role. And, since his departure, two more councillors have now also resigned from their posts.
Nick Tegerdine (pictured above) had been a Parish Councillor here for over eight years and was Chairman of the Environment & Policy Committee.
He gave this statement to RUDDINGTON.info:
“I have recently resigned from the Parish Council. It was a big decision to make since there have been many highlights during my time, and many positive changes have occurred. Since I am aware of unhelpful speculation I have decided to write a few lines about my decision. I’ll make clear where I think the PC does a good job, what positive changes have been made, and what changes are still needed.
“Council fulfils its statutory responsibilities well enough. It hasn’t always done so, but in the last few years we’ve modernised and, with the invaluable help of the staff, I have few worries on that score. We’ve made big savings on IT, telephony, utilities and banking. Things are not only cheaper but they are more effective, thus saving the taxpayer money. In these times of austerity, although I fear that we haven’t experienced the full extent of that yet, further economies are required. We’ve done the ‘big ticket’ items with one exception, that being the buildings that we variously own or lease. Sadly, other than installing a facility for people with mobility issues at the Village Hall, there has been little meaningful progress on this issue.
“Council has improved it’s ‘public face’. When I joined we didn’t have a website and we didn’t welcome residents into meetings, and due to the layout of the room often Councillors sat with their backs to the two or three individuals who had turned up to speak. The Council now meets in the Hall and there is plenty of room for all, with microphones and a hearing loop for those who need it. The website is very busy, the village Newsletter is produced by the PC, and there is now a presence on Twitter and Facebook. These initiatives have helped Council to engage a little better with younger people in Ruddington, although there remains a long journey ahead to get to where Council needs to be. We now employ people properly, this has not always been the case. We now have policies and procedures appropriate for an organisation of this size. Simply put, we have the structures and systems that are required, and we didn’t have. We also have very good playing fields and recreational areas, and great credit goes to all of the staff involved in creating and maintaining these facilities. Council also decided to use the facility of The Green to attract more visitors to Ruddington, and to create a sense of community. There is debate about whether this has always been done wisely, but overall the decision represents a change from ‘yes but’ thinking to ‘and yes’.
“I left the Parish Council earlier this month after eight and a bit years. I believe that the Americans have a good plan with their 22nd Amendment which means that the President cannot hold power for more than two four year terms. Council has a problem with people staying too long, but also with not enough people coming forward. One inhibits the other as I see it. So there’s a cultural change needed and the appetite is barely there, both within Council and in the community. That’s another reason why I left.
“I was aware that ‘reasons’ for my resignation would be invented and circulated and indeed they have been. That is disappointing, particularly when a source is from within the Council itself. Every Councillor received a letter from me detailing my reasons, and it is shameful that the facts are and have been misrepresented for reasons that are entirely self-serving. So, I’ll set out some of the reasons, in as few words as possible.
“Decisions have been made that are not supported by evidence. Facts are, in my experience, not considered as they should be, with personal allegiances getting in the way.
Other decisions are simply not made because of other priorities, leading to situations where a rushed action is forced upon Councillors. There has been a failure of management practice to ensure that this is only rarely the case.
There is an absence of strategy particularly when dealing with the big issues, with a preference for hopping from one meeting to the next without progressing matters, a ‘getting by’ rather than a ‘getting it done’ mentality.
Then there is the internal culture, which is characterised by mistrust and underhand behaviour. In my view Council has failed to deal with manipulative behaviour consistently and over time. This leads to an unhealthy work environment with a high ‘need to know’ factor, a degree of avoidance of the tough challenges ahead, and meetings that are sometimes unnecessarily unpleasant. I’ll leave it there, that’s enough negatives for one article, but any other reasons you have heard about my resignation are, at best, speculation. Please talk to me if you think otherwise.
“What could Council do better? It could effectively publicise the many things that it does well. It could invest more in the streets and road verges, a few daffodils would be nice. It could actively encourage new members, particularly younger people and the young families who represent the future. It could look at the subsides given to some facilities and decide whether it is the best use of public money. Some arrangements have been in place for many years and are resistant to challenge. This will not be affordable for very much longer and Council needs to address the problem now. Finally, and frankly, there are Councillors who need to examine their own position and what they get out of Council alongside what they put in, and if they won’t do it, Council must insist and where necessary, intervene.
“I am sure that most of you realise that Council sometimes has to make a decision which is going to upset some people, planning for new housing being the obvious example. There are other situations though where Council sees fit to progress something for the good of the majority of residents, whilst some will feel unheard and disrespected. It is a sometimes a difficult job, and if you are considering putting yourself forward, please be aware of this. Sadly, it is also a fact of life that you will need a thick skin. When making the difficult decisions, do not be surprised if you are abused on social media, accused of ‘taking a back-hander’, and even have people visit your door to hurl abuse. It has all happened to me and the perpetrators could usefully consider how you influence people to your way of thinking, rather than behaving like playground bullies.
“Council needs new members. I hope that what I have written here will stimulate some of you to step forward. I am happy to expand on the situation in private conversation.”
Two weeks’ ago Denise Beecroft handed in her resignation as a Parish Councillor. She told us:
“I made a decision to leave the RPC due to working full time. I felt I did not enough spare time to commit to working RPC and would have liked to put more into the role, but this wasn’t possible due to working full time. I’m all or nothing! I would have liked to have seen the RPC being more involved in the social issues around Ruddington and seeing what community support there is to offer. I was on the Planning Committee which I didn’t really enjoy or suit me. Also I got disappointed regards to the politics amongst other Parish Councillors. We all have different values and beliefs, however it is what is best for the community we live in. I am all for change and you don’t know if things work out for the best unless you try.”
And, within the last week, Justine Hallam has stood down as a Councillor for Camelot Ward – less than a month after an election to fill another vacancy there. Justine says:
“I resigned from Ruddington Parish Council because I had certain ideas and visions that I hoped to achieve. However I realised I could not do that within the framework of how the RPC is administrated. I hope for the residents of Ruddington Village that the Parish Council finds a unified team that can fairly reflect and represent the overall Village inhabitants.
“I want to thank Gavin Walker and the village plan team for allowing me to work alongside them and wish them success with the fulfilment of the plan.
“I want to concentrate on my business supporting people with Dementia and being a trustee of a new charity.”
Quoted on the Ruddington Parish Council website, The Chairman of the Council, Councillor Allen Wood, said:
“I would like to thank Nick for his time on the Parish Council, for the immense amount of work that he has done and acknowledge the positive changes that he has initiated. As a committee chairman over the past number of years Nick has been central to all the developments that have been made and possibilities we are considering. He has also done much work behind the scenes supporting the staff through some difficult times. Gary (the Clerk) has asked me to add his thanks to mine. Nick’s wise counsel will be missed by both of us, as well as the Parish Council as a whole.”
On the most recent resignations, Mr Wood writes “I would like to thank both Denise and Justine for their contributions while on the Parish Council”.
A by-election has already been requested for the Easthorpe Ward vacancy and will be held on Thursday the 4th of May – the same day as the Nottinghamshire County Council elections. Nominations from candidates for the Easthorpe Ward by-election need to be hand delivered to Rushcliffe Borough Council by Tuesday the 4th of April. Forms are available from the council.
But further co-options or elections will now also be needed to fill the Manor Ward and Camelot Ward seats left empty by the latest RPC resignations. So watch this space!