I REALLY must respond to the letter ‘Complying with Standing Orders’ in the Gazette of June 8.
Ex-councillor Laurie Holland’s letter is very misleading. Laurie gives the explanation his Conservative Party Group’s decision to vote against a grant for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau was based on Seaford Town Council’s Standing Orders. This cannot be used to justify the action. As Laurie states, the Standing Orders of Seaford Town Council say no decision of the council can be amended except by a special motion of seven councillors.
This was done. A signed special motion was submitted and therefore the motion to give a grant to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau was correctly on the council agenda in April – if it was not correct you may be sure Town Clerk, Sam Shippen would have clearly ruled it out of order.
From memory all the Conservative councillors voted against giving a grant, including the councillor now the leader of the council and who spoke strongly against any grant being given.
There was also a recent precedent for dealing with a “one off” grant for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau as the Council had recently agreed a grant for the Seaford in Bloom organisation.
In addition it should be remembered extra money had been put aside for grants to voluntary bodies, particularly organisations helping those most in need in Seaford. If the Citizen’s Advice Bureau did not qualify I do not know who could!
It is very sad the grant to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau was refused; maybe the Conservative councillors were just confused.
The bureau is staffed mainly by volunteers and helps those in need and many who cannot afford professional legal and financial advice. Indeed, there are few reliable sources for such advice – what hope is there for David Cameron’s Big Society with local Conservative councillors voting against such a valuable community service when they have both the money and the means to do so?
Former Chair of the Finance & General Purposes Committee
Seaford Town Council