Transparency concerns over Sandown community partnership followed by resignation, says Cllr

Residents raised concerns earlier this week over the relationship between the Sandown town council and the Sandown community partnership. Overnight news has arrived of at least one resignation.

sad face

A row over the supply and installation of a new junior skatepark in Sandown has led to concerns being raised over the conduct and transparency of the Sandown Community Partnership (SCP) (what is this?).

What are the concerns?
The concerns have been outlined to OnTheWight as:

  • Decisions are being made by the Partnership at meetings the public aren’t permitted to attend.
  • The Partnership is dominated by members of the Town council.
  • Some are questioning why the decisions made by the Partnership, away from the public gaze, are then waved through at Town council meetings, without any public discussion.

Resignation
Cllr Jacquie Mereweather, the Secretary and Treasurer of the SCP – who is also the Mayor of the Sandown Town Council (STC) has, according to another councillor, resigned from the post with the Partnership.

What is unclear – because she hasn’t responded to questions OnTheWight posed to her yesterday and today – is if there is a connection between the concerns raised about the Partnership by the public and her resignation. When she replies, we will of course, clarify the position.

Value of the SCP called into question
It was Cllr Debbie Andre who this morning (Thursday), informed OnTheWight of Cllr Mereweather’s resignation.

She said,

“The resignation of the Secretary/Treasurer of the Sandown Community Partnership, Jacquie Mereweather, and recent revelations about how it operates, calls the value of the Partnership into question.

“It is maybe time for residents and representatives of local businesses to instead form a publicly accountable group, which could take over from the Partnership, to raise and source funds for Sandown, including a “state of the art” facility for our younger children where the junior skate park would have been.

“I believe such a group would have the full support of the Community and I would be happy as Ward Councillor to offer any possible assistance.”

OnTheWight has written to Cllr Mereweather and Cllr Gary Young (Chair of SCP) to ask for details of the resignation.

Relationship between organisations
Over the weekend, former Sandown Town councillor, Eric Lawson – who resigned from his position earlier this summer citing the “council’s lack of vision, willingness to be open to new ideas and refusal to honestly engage with residents” – shared details on social media of the relationship between the council and Sandown Community Partnership.

Hub: Is Mayor’s “position now untenable?”
Prior to the resignation, the revelation of how the two organisations operate led to calls from residents for openness and transparency of the Sandown Community Partnership and for the Sandown Mayor, Jacquie Mereweather, to consider whether her position is tenable.

Members of Sandown Hub – a recently formed-Facebook Group say,

“Jacquie Mereweather has handed over responsibility for the unusable and uninsurable Junior Skate Park to herself as Mayor of Sandown, and the rest of the Town Council. Is her position now untenable?”

Call for more transparency
Sandown Hub also calls for the accounts and meeting minutes for the last five years to be made public.

You can read their statement in full over on the Sandown Hub Facebook Page.

Who is in The Partnership?
As of January 2018 SCP members included:

Jacquie Mereweather (STC Mayor)
Ian Ward (STC)
Gary Young (Chair) (STC)
Connie Cowley (STC)
*Debbie Andre (STC)
Heather Humby (STC)
Raj Patel (STC)
Paul Brading (STC)
*Eric Lawson (STC)
Ronnie Teasdale (STC)

As well as non-councillors, Christine Jackson, John Davies, Nicky Parker (Business Association – resigned in April 2018) and Mary Smith.

(*Note: Eric Lawson since resigned from STC or SCP and “Debbie Andre has been removed”)

Mayor’s response
OnTheWight has posed a number of questions to the mayor and clerk of Sandown Town Council, which although acknowledged, have not been answered.

We have also posed the same questions to Cllr Gary Young, as Chair of the SCP.

We’ll update this article once we hear back from those concerned.

What’s the Sandown Community Partnership?
Prior to the 2011 Localism Act, all parish councils on the Isle of Wight had community partnerships.

They were necessary for the purpose of applying for grant funding. However since the Localism Act removed restrictions, only two other town or parish councils (Nirthwood and Nettlestone) still have Community Partnerships on the Island.

Image: memestate under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 23rd August, 2018 10:23am

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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Sandown, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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5 Comments on "Transparency concerns over Sandown community partnership followed by resignation, says Cllr"

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Fred Karno
This seems at first glance to be an irregular and dysfunctional set up and looks to be quite improper. Local Councils should be open and transparent. All the more concerning because one of the town councillors who is allegedly also on SCP, holds a major portfolio with the Isle of Wight Council, as an IWC County Councillor. I don’t live in Sandown, but local residents should know… Read more »
garyeldridge
Sir, as very concerned resident constituents I and my Partner have attended 2 Public Meetings, where votes of no confidence were overwhelmingly recorded, concerning specific activity and specific Members. What happened thereafter is evidence, if any more was needed, of just how undemocratic and unrepresentative Sandown Council actually is, in that the vote was completely ignored. Voters were informed it did not matter what we did or… Read more »
Benny C
Fred you are so right, these names seem to recur regularly where big questions are being asked and valid concerns expressed. It’s easy to expose and expel under the right circumstances. It’s necessary and our collective responsibility to each other to expose and expel where inappropriate,, naive or at worst suspicious practices exist. People who represent all that is bad about the important role of local government… Read more »
iowdave

Sandown Town Council increased their precept in the last council tax by an obscene amount. They have now disgraced themselves yet again. Perhaps it’s time to scrap this obviously rubbish body completely.

Benny C
Garyeldridge, that’s surely a powerful and useful email. Call the island MP in as a first step. Get others to do the same. Force of numbers. Make sure he is there in the room. It’s a path you might not like but it’s part of his role and another important process step along the road to being heard. If he fails, there are others who will hold… Read more »