Crisis as village ‘tears itself apart’

The village of Danehill SUS-160905-145715001
The village of Danehill SUS-160905-145715001

A bitter row between a parish council and village critics has led to the mass resignation of councillors.

Every councillor on Danehill Parish Council - and its clerk - quit their posts at the council’s annual meeting following major disagreements between councillors and villagers over a number of local issues - including council plans to appoint a £50,000 community warden and proposals to build a solar farm.

The mass walk-out came after what council chairman Charles Critchley described as attacks on individuals in which the community had begun to ‘tear itself apart.’

He said: “A small number of parishioners allowed emotion to get out of control.” And he added: “When this happens the best thing is to call a stop and allow for a healing process.”

The ‘healing process’ will mean an election will now take place, probably in July.

Rows were sparked when some villagers - known as the Friends of Danehill and Chelwood Gate - said that the parish council wanted to spend money ‘on things absolutely nobody wanted.’ That included the solar farm and introduction of a community warden.

One, who did not want to be named, said that an independent survey was carried out over the appointment of a community warden and nearly 300 people opposed it, with not a single person in favour of the appointment.

Mr Critchley said the upcoming devolution bill - which will put more power to raise taxes and spend money in the hands of parish councils - is likely to cause problems up and down the country.

He said the government was cutting funds to county councils and if parishes wanted to maintain the services it currently provides, then it would have to pay for them. “The community warden was one example of this,” he said.

Mr Critchley said he had not yet decided whether or not to stand for re-election.