“You can fool all the people some of the time…”

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” So said Abraham Lincoln, 160 years ago.

Maybe the Town Council’s left hand doesn’t know what the Town Council’s right hand is up to. That’s the kindest interpretation we can put on an extraordinary Facebook post by the Town Council yesterday. In response to a visitor comment on our Facebook page, about discussions indecipherable to members of the public who were present at the other end of the Council chamber, the Town Council intervened.

It started: “If you are really interested in how the Town Council spends your money, and you should be, you are welcome to attend the Town Council’s Finance & Resources Management Committee meetings which are open to the public.” Given that it was quite clear that the comment came from someone who was present at the last Town Council meeting, that seems somewhat unnecessary. It then continued, making this extraordinary assertion: “Meetings information is available on the Town Council’s website along with minutes of all meetings.”

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“Minutes of some meetings” would have been an accurate description. As we commented on Facebook later “…no minutes of the Town Council’s Finance & Resources Management Committee meetings have been posted on the website since those for November 2017 – five months without any record of the decisions that have been taken about taxpayers’ money!”

They’re not on the finance minutes page, nor on the list of supporting agenda documents which presumably are provided to committee members.

It’s one thing not publishing the minutes, for reasons that are not clear. It’s quite a different, and probably more serious, matter for the Town Council to make a public assertion that is plainly untrue.

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Town Council website 21st April 2018. Links to minutes of Finance & Resources Management Committee meetings

Given concerns about some aspects of the Town Council’s use of our money and, in some cases, apparent overspends it is really important the council taxpayers should be able to easily understand this information. Yes, they could attend meetings, but there is an obligation to provide information to the public. And a moral duty not to mislead us.