Questions are being asked of Welwyn Hatfield Council over the transparency and openness of a decision made by a Conservative Controlled Committee.
On 5th November, Councillors debated the long unresolved issue of Hatfield’s lost playing facilities for its flagship football and rugby clubs, with the committee agreeing to accept a proposal to receive £1.4m from Hertfordshire University, in lieu of their responsibilities to reintroduce facilities lost when Angerland Common in South Hatfield, closed over a decade ago.
A ‘Trust’ is to be formed to determine how the money is allocated to achieve this aim, but at the meeting, Cllr Jacqui Bolton representing North Mymms Parish Council, demanded that her Council be given the money to spend on upgrading existing facilities in Welham Green and Brookmans Park.
Chairing the committee as a Borough Councillor, Cllr Stephen Boulton, husband of Jacqui, repeatedly stated his view to members that North Mymms Parish council be given a seat on the yet to be formed Trust which until that point, had not been in the Councils recommendations.
Cllr Stephen Boulton is also the Chairman of North Mymms Parish Council.
Speaking after the meeting, Labour Leader Cllr Kieran Thorpe said “Leaving aside the matter of North Mymms Parish Council playing no part in the decade long struggle to resolve this issue until they get a sniff of the money, the rules are very clear and there is a huge conflict of interests – Cllr Boulton should not have chaired that portion of the meeting, and played no part in those discussions. He has clearly used his position to attempt to benefit North Mymms Parish Council“
Hatfield Central Councillor Glyn Hayes formally tabled a question to the Leader of the Council John Dean on the 23rd November , asking if he felt this was concurrent with “open and transparent government”.
After incorrectly suggesting that Cllr Hayes was mistaken in his assertion that Councillor Boulton was the Chairman of North Mymms Parish Council, Cllr Dean cleared his Brookmans Park colleague of any wrongdoing saying “this is a very serious matter, and I understand how it may look” going on to say however “Cllr Stephen Boulton made the correct declaration of interests, and therefore did not do anything wrong”.
Reacting to the brushing off of the matter, Cllr Kieran Thorpe said “this is exactly the sort of highly questionable behaviour that residents complain about. That this matter has gone on for as long as it has is already a scandal, and the interference from those with clear vested interests at the eleventh hour is extraordinary. We wont let this drop – Hatfield deserves better”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Minutes of the meeting on November 5th are available from http://welhat.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=10612&p=0 – They incorrectly state that Cllrs Lenny Brandon and Kieran Thorpe spoke against the decision to accept the funding from the University. Both Councillors have spent the last two years working with all parties to ensure the funding was offered by the University.
The agenda containing the Councils recommendation to accept the money, but not mentioning awarding a place on the trust to North Mymms Parish council can be found here http://welhat.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=10535&p=0 (page 84 section 9 refers)
The meeting in question on was recorded in its entirety by Welwyn Hatfield Council and can be viewed via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47aT7VQSmn0 (item 11 begins at 2hrs and 7mins)
For further information contact Cllr Kieran Thorpe 07815749026 firstname.lastname@example.org