Friday, 9 May 2008

Lost for Words

The wonderful weather the last few days has encouraged us to get out to the garden and spend some family quality time preparing the garden for its opening on the 25th of May in aid of the Ian Rennie charity, see However, for some the enjoyment of this wonderful spring has been tarnished. No, I am not talking about the Labour party. I am thinking about our Wendover Parish Council.

Yesterday I was given a compliment (paraphrasing): “We have been checking your blog for a comment on the Parish Meeting last Monday. Why have you not written anything?” Well, I could say I was very busy with my work (which is true), my wife gave me a lot to do in the Garden, I was working on my contribution to the Chiltern Writers Group Anniversary Anthology, or just that I did not want to spoil my excellent mode induced by the eruption of spring in the Garden. But this would not be true. When I came home Monday I was itching to bang into the blog my anger but when I put fingers to keyboard I just could not find the right words. I was shell-shocked, flabbergasted and dumfounded.

I sat through the meeting in sheer agony. There are several dimensions to the calamity the parish is experiencing. The most important in my mind is the tension between certain councillors (and their “advisors”) and the Parish Clerk, Fiona. I suppose this is another reason I got stuck with writing an entry on Monday. People expect me to ‘declare’ on what side of this issue I fall. I do not really want to be dragged into this murky swamp. I do however fear that one of the casualties of this sorry state of affairs might be Fiona.

Loosing Fiona, or just loosing here enthusiasm for the job will hurt the Parish much more than loosing certain councillors. We have already lost councillors I have learnt to respect and appreciate their immensely important contribution to the Parish. It started with the resignation of Dr Sheila King and now we face an avalanche of resignations. To-date:

Ted Wilkinson
Eileen McKechnie
Angus McKechnie
Norman Western
Steve Bowles
Brian Prior

Those of us who follow the Parish Council will appreciate the severe blow this loss is. It was brought home immediately in the last meeting where Councillor Ballantine made a pigs breakfast of her attempt to step into Steve’s shoes.

But I digress from the main issue, Fiona. My outsider’s impression of Fiona is that she is dedicated, hard working, friendly and professional. The parish has invested in her training and until the ‘Green Affair’ flamed up last year, she was chugging along very nicely, thank you very much. Yes, she is on a learning curve. The business of keeping democracy ticking is very complex. The training Parish Counsellors get is mainly of how to find the right rule or regulation. This ‘lawyer’ type thinking is critical to the correct running of the Parish. The Chair and Councillors have often sent Fiona off to check the correct way of approaching issues. But when she sticks to the letter of the rule book (her bible) there are those who see parallels to Sir Humphrey manipulating the government machine. That is not what I see. What I see is a good Parish Clark who has our village good at her hart and that has the potential to become an excellent Clark. What will make her excellent? Experience. Experience and seniority provide one with the perspective that allows one to operate without constantly referring to the Book. This leads to a more relaxed and mature approach to doing ones job, handling the takes and duties, and interpreting the Councils decisions.

Last Monday the leaking Ship hit a debilitating storm, lost its second captain and many good hands. Whatever measures are taken to keep it afloat, in Valen’s name, do not execute the chief mechanic. We need the engine running. First to work the pumps and then to get back on course.

There, I think I managed to get through this entry without getting involved in the ‘Green Affair’. I want to keep myself impartial on this one.

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