'Mistrust' of council 'must not be ignored'

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 August 2016

Archant

A damning survey 'must not be ignored', according to a Highbridge councillor, after its results revealed a 'lack of trust' in Burnham and Highbridge Town Council.

More than 700 people responded to a survey – which was available in print and online – organised by former councillor Helen Groves.

Some 89 per cent of its respondents disagreed with the way money is spent by the council and only seven per cent support the its policy of awarding grants to businesses.

While some councillors have questioned the survey’s legitimacy, Highbridge councillor John Parkes told the Mercury if 700 people disagree with the council, those views should be discussed.

He said: “If 711 people are responding to a survey then the council must take it into account.

“Clearly this is going to rumble on for a while and it cannot be ignored.

“The 700 or so are still a part of the electorate and they still vote so they must be listened to. We don’t want a lack of trust in the council.”

Ms Groves said: “I set up the survey following two prior attempts to highlight an ongoing issue with grants awarded by the town council. When I joined the council in 2011 there were very few grant applications from the business community.

“There is a significant question to be answered regarding whether the council should award funding to commercial enterprise.

“I was surprised at the number of respondents as it is unusual to have so many people willing to engage and the results demonstrate a deeper level of mistrust and unhappiness than even I had picked up upon.

“I think councillors who question the validity of the survey are missing the point. They do not have to accept it but would do well to talk to their communities in a broader way.”

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