Six quit Arnside Parish Council in three months

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A COASTAL parish council is facing turmoil after six councillors quit in three months.

Arnside Parish Council had ten members up until November, but this fell to just four – the minimum permitted for it to function.

Despite two new members joining in recent weeks, bringing the total back up to six, there are ongoing concerns after a number of contentious issues in the village.

Confirming the resignations, long-standing chairman Dave Willacy said his own position was in doubt due to medical reasons. “I think the reason most of them have gone is because of all the problems going on,” he said. “It does worry me because it means we are not able to devote time to other things.”

Coun Terry Keefe, who served for 11 years, and left his seat just hours before Monday’s parish council meeting, said: “The stresses and strains of the past few months had just built up. Like a number of other people who have resigned before me, it has encroached on other aspects of my life.”

Former vice-chairman Pete McSweeney, who stood down at the end of last month, added that one of the contributory causes for his departure was the on-going wrangle over the War Memorial Playing Field.

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The field, owned by the parish council, was added to the Cumbria County Historic Environment Record (HER) - a database of all known archaeological sites and monuments for the county. This was at the request of resident Wendy Morris, who moved to the village two years ago and whose property backs on to the grounds.

Mr Willacy said the council was unhappy with the way the site was registered.

“Mrs Morris did mention it to us, but we didn’t want to know because we did not see the HER status as advantageous,” he said.

“But we were not consulted by Cumbria Coun ty Council, and common sense to me says why have a restriction put on property when the owners do not want it.”

At the council’s monthly meeting on Monday, more than 60 residents attended to discuss the HER issue over fears it would limit usage of the land. They were updated by Sandside-based county councillor Ian Stewart.

Quoting an official response on the process, run by the county council, he said: “The inclusion of the memorial field on the HER has no implications for the current use of the site, and will not restrict activities.”

Mrs Morris told the meeting she had registered the field to ‘protect it for generations to come’. “Cumbria County Council said the HER would offer a further layer of protection,” she said.

South Lakeland district councillor for Arnside and Beetham Pru Jupe suggested mediation between the council and Mrs Morris could offer a resolution.

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