I’ve been doing a bit of digging to try and understand why there is so much squabbling going on in Shiptonthorpe. What I have discovered is concerning as the facts seem to suggest that some parties have been somewhat economical with facts.

Shiptonthorpe Village Hall is owned by the Shiptonthorpe Parish Charity of which Shiptonthorpe Parish Council is the sole trustee. The Hall has been leased to the trustees of the Shiptonthorpe Village Hall Management Committee for the past 40 years for £1 a year.

The lease is up for renewal this year so in line with good practice the previous Parish Council engaged a firm of solicitors to renew the documentation and ensure that it was in line with current legislation and ‘fit for purpose’ for the next 40 years.

The current Village Hall Committee (VHC) led by Richard Waud somehow got the impression that the PC would start to charge them a commercial rent. There were even rumours of £12,000 a year being circulated in the village. A claim that was allegedly made to voters as they arrived at the Polling Station last week.

All of this led to some heated exchanges at recent PC meetings with Richard Waud saying the whole thing was happening in secrecy. But was it?

Edward Bowron is a Parish Councillor, a trustee of the VHC and a member of ‘Shiptonthorpe Forward Together’ (SFT). As a councillor he will have been across the discussions within the PC. The minutes of the December meeting of the PC state that Cllr E Bowdon was tasked with updating the VHC on current developments re the lease renewal. Assuming he did, it is difficult to understand why Richard Waud claimed at the PC meeting of 23 March that the VHC had not been involved with any discussion about the lease renewal and all the decisions are happening in secret. The committee itself might not have been involved but one of their leading members certainly was until he resigned sometime before the February meeting.

At the March PC meeting the chairman Robert Ducker said:

“It’s a peppercorn rent and that’s it. A commercial rent has never been mentioned. We are looking at a peppercorn rent of £1”.

Earlier this week Richard Waring, a newly elected Parish Councillor claimed there had been a lack of honesty from the former Parish Council and that’s why they’d all lost their seats except one.

  • In summary:
    Richard Waud and other members of the VHC claim there has been secrecy and they have not been allowed to see correspondence re the lease.
  • The Shiptonthorpe Charity owns the Village Hall and the VHC is the tenant. It would be unusual for any landlord to allow a tenant to dictate the terms of a lease or set their own rent. To do so would not be seen to be in the public interest.
  • The clerk to the council told the PC meeting in March that she had been advised by a solicitor that anything of a ‘client sensitive nature’ must be discussed confidentially.
  • As a Parish Councillor Edward Bowron who is also a member of the VHC would have known everything that was being discussed. So technically the claim that the VHC have been kept in the dark is wrong.

It is hard to believe that said parish councillor would not have shared what he knew with the VHC and SFT.

Victor Lambert is also a Parish Councillor and a member of SFT and would have known that the council were not going to charge an annual rent of £12,000 because along with Ed Bowron was part of the decision-making process.

On the one hand we have some members of the community accusing the former parish councillors of being secretive whilst they themselves seem to be less than forthcoming with facts.

On Monday this week in an effort to confirm my facts or at the very least get a comment I reached out to Richard Waud, Cllr E Bowron and David Gough for comment. I have not yet received any responses. Interestingly, since I started my research for this story the Facebook group ‘Shiptonthorpe Forward Together’ seems to have disappeared and along with it documentary evidence of the claims which are challenged above. Which isn’t a great start to the promised openess, honesty and transparancy.

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