Express & Star

Every member of parish council resigns after no confidence petition

A community near Stafford has lost all its parish councillors following a mass resignation and a petition of no confidence signed by more than 120 residents.

Creswell residents have taken a new direction

Creswell Parish Council represents the northern gateway to Stafford, covering areas including Creswell Grove, the Primepoint business site, Redhill Business Park and the new Marston Grange housing development.

The parish has been in existence for more than 160 years and had five councillors, plus a clerk.

But its handling of plans for a new petrol station on land off Creswell Grove – and its level of communication with residents – sparked anger among some parishioners.

The petrol station proposals were approved by Stafford Borough Council in March 2019, despite objections from the parish council and 28 residents.

A petition of no confidence in the parish council was signed by more than 120 residents and dozens packed into the January council meeting.

The council’s vice chairman, James Cantrill, had already tendered his resignation ahead of the meeting and his departure was followed by chairman Maria Redfern and the other three council members – Bryan Cross, Pete Bowen and Lindsey Douglas.

Creswell Grove resident Mike Craney, one of the petition organisers, said he had applied to join the council in the days after the heated January meeting.

Mr Craney said: “We had pensioners and young people at the meeting and they told the parish council ‘you are completely dysfunctional and out of touch with the parish’. They don’t represent the area – the only thing the parish council did was they had a social function at Christmas.

“What are they doing on the parish council? They are there to represent however many hundreds of people and they need to represent us.

“We want change. We had a paper petition and three of us went out on a Saturday morning and 120 to 130 people signed it – that’s how much resentment there is.”

A new community group, known as Creswell Parish on Facebook, has been formed in recent weeks and has already set to work with events including litter picking.

Around 25 people took part in the clear-up – and they removed several bottles of urine that had been dumped in their parish. Lorry drivers parking up in the area or using routes unsuitable for large vehicles have been a long-running concern for residents – and there is a lack of signage showing the way to suitable parking areas in Stafford according to Mr Craney, who is a HGV driver himself.

The next parish council meeting was due to be held on Monday. But a notice on the parish council stated this week that all future meetings are currently cancelled until new parish councillors are in place.

Parish council clerk Lisa Horritt is also standing down in March, but said she had made her decision several months ago for reasons unrelated to January’s meeting or the issues raised by residents.

She added: “We had around 70 residents, mostly from Creswell Grove, at the meeting. The main things that came out were they felt they wanted better communication with the parish council.

“The councillors went away and thought about it and they felt perhaps it was time for a change. They all stood down for their own personal reasons.

“At the moment we are just awaiting information from the borough council about the process moving forward. We can’t hold a parish council meeting without a minimum of three members present.

“The residents are very passionate about making their area better and that’s never a bad thing to want the best for your area. You can’t fault any resident in the area who wants that for their community.”

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