Spending row over publicity pamphlets divides councillors in Penistone

A referendum will take place next month to decide whether Penistone will adopt a neighbourhood development plan which could help guide the way the town and surrounding villages evolve in the decades ahead.

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 10:58 am
Controversy: Penistone Town Council's publicity pamphlet

The document has been drawn up after years of consultation and planning by Penistone Town Council and, if adopted, would carry legal weight when other authorities were considering developments in the district in future.

It involves a series of key objectives, which include ensuring there is housing to meet the needs of the whole community, that the town remains a thriving commercial centre, that its heritage is preserved and the surrounding countryside remains easily accessible.

Neighbourhood plans were devised as a vehicle to allow communities to have more influence over the way they develop in future and neighbouring Oxspring became the first in Barnsley to adopt one, when it found favour in a referendum last month.

Before they can go out for a vote, plans have to be found to be compatible with Barnsley Council’s own over-arching Local Plan, which covers the borough’s housing and jobs developments in the years ahead and have also to be approved by an independent inspector.

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Now details of the referendum, to be held on July 11, are being circulated among the community, with all those registered to vote and living within the boundaries of Penistone Town Council eligible to vote.

Publicity material published by the town council has caused a spat among members, however, with newly elected Coun David Wood questioning the cost.

That fell below the £3,500 threshold where several quotes would have been needed, but Coun Wood told colleagues he had obtained alternative quotes which, he said, would have saved the authority £500.

At a meeting of the Town Council he said: “We have known about this, we knew it was coming around. We have had plenty of time to get quotes.”

However, he was told by Coun Ann Rusby: “You come in and try telling us how to do what we have been doing for 25 years. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

“Coun Anita Kimberley has worked for hours and hours on this, for the benefit of the town without renumeration.”

The timescale was tight and a local printing company was used because they had experience in the area and “were the best people to go to”.

“You have not even had the dignity to come in for a couple of meetings to see how it works. You just come in and tell us how we have been doing it wrong. I for one take umbridge at it,” she said.

Other councillors spoke to support the decision to support a local company by taking business there.