Villagers voice their dismay over parish council finances

C150363-3 BTH Mid Stedpavilion phot kate'David Burton, chairman of the Stedham Sports Association, right, with Sue Yeates, secretary, and Steve Trussler, project manager, outside the new Stedham pavilion.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C150363-3
C150363-3 BTH Mid Stedpavilion phot kate'David Burton, chairman of the Stedham Sports Association, right, with Sue Yeates, secretary, and Steve Trussler, project manager, outside the new Stedham pavilion.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C150363-3

Villagers at Stedham have criticised the leaders of their parish council over the management of its finances.

Residents at the annual parish meeting of Stedham with Iping voted overwhelmingly that they were unhappy.

The vote was taken after the meeting heard there would be cuts in the budget for this year and discontent over the allocation of some of the money.

It came after former chairman of the parish council Chris Morgan asked: “I would be interested to know with a show of hands how many people in this room are not happy with the current leadership of the parish council.”

Stedham Sports Association is one group not receiving its longstanding annual grant.

David Burton, chairman of the association, was at the meeting to give a report on the association’s year.

He told the Observer: “I was very disappointed that the parish council considered that sport for all in Stedham was not essential and we would not receive a grant. Our facilities are used by everybody, including the school and the church, and I told the parish council at the meeting how I felt.”

The council is currently embroiled in a lengthy case involving former parish clerk Jane Crawford but has said the 2019/20 budget contains a ‘contingency of £10,150 for costs arising from the legal action’. Mrs Crawford left last year claiming constructive dismissal, after nearly 19 years as clerk serving successive chairmen.

Lucy Petrie took over as chairman in 2017. She told the annual meeting of parishioners she was unable to answer questions about the ongoing case as it was a confidential matter involving a former employee.

Villagers were unhappy they have not been told the total spend for Stedham’s neighbourhood plan last year, although the council said the accounts were freely available on the parish council website for anyone to access.

Parish councillors are due to elect their chairman for the coming year at their meeting on Wednesday. There was no contest in the parish council elections as there were only seven candidates for nine vacancies.