MEMBERS of the public are urging councillors to get on with running the town, after expressing their dismay that Westbury Town Council has become a ‘laughing stock’.
Town councillors have been lambasted by residents and figures in Westbury over the “continuous bickering”, “back-biting” and “ridiculous in-fighting.” Comments have been increasing on local town forums, but matters came to a head at a fractious town council meeting last week when members of the public aired their frustration.
Rev Jonathan Burke, who walked out of the meeting in disgust said, “I believe what you do is important. I would add my voice to the sadness in the town and ask that you are mature and wise enough to draw a line and move on.”
Chairing the meeting, Westbury Mayor, cllr Sue Ezra, did not make a formal response to the comments. However, cllr David Bradshaw told his fellow councillors, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. All this ducking and diving is only making the situation worse.”
Nine councillors have resigned from the town council since February 2010, the most recent being Bill Braid who stated that the council “has become like a headless chicken with no clear direction.”
Readers of the White Horse News have written in to have their say. Molly Buckland says, “Myself and probably many others are wondering and worrying what is happening at Westbury Council and among the councillors and what are they doing or not doing to our/my town… What I hope will happen very soon is most of them will pull together, have a good shake up and put personal politics with a small ‘p’ aside, and chivy up the slackers.”
Steve Russell says, “Is it any wonder that local people don’t want to get involved in local politics when they see this continuous bickering and back-biting going on through the local media.
“If these people put the effort and time spent on this name calling, mud slinging and personal self gratification into serving the community, perhaps Westbury might just be a little better for it.”
Discussion has been continuing on the town’s online forums. ‘Shizzy’ says, “It really is no surprise that councillors are resigning at such a rate if what we have recently experienced is anything to go by. I have never known such a dysfunctional council as the one we have in Westbury.
“If councillors spent as much time working for the benefit of residents as they do bitching, and fighting amongst each other Westbury would be a much nicer place to live.”
Dr Peter Biggs, a Westbury resident who regularly attends town council meetings, described the council as “pathetic” and a “laughing stock” when he spoke in the public forum of last week’s meeting. He urged them to, “Stop this ridiculous infighting.”
Following the meeting, he said, “They need to forget party politics and concentrate on improving the town. There’s the issue with running the meetings, they have no idea how to run a meeting, it’s appalling. I’ve chaired meetings in my working life and attended many more and these are the worst I’ve been to. My message is sort out the meeting system and get training – councillors need to know how to put a point quickly and simply, and shut up – not waffle on. So they need tighter control and better chairs of meetings.
“I have already suggested that if you want the public to come, the first part of the meeting should be about matters related to the town. The second part should be about all the silly little administrative things because that’s not what the public are interested in.
“In summary, we need more efficient and effective meetings.”