Town council in Milton Keynes is still ‘a powder keg waiting to go off’ six months after explosive meeting

An investigation into complaints made following an explosive town council meeting six months ago is costing taxpayers an estimated £3,050, it has been revealed.

An investigation into complaints made following an explosive town council meeting six months ago is costing taxpayers an estimated £3,050, it has been revealed.

Queensway Methodist hall in Bletchley was the scene of the unholy council row

Queensway Methodist hall in Bletchley was the scene of the unholy council row

A meeting of Milton Keynes Council’s Standards Committee on Thursday (October 3) is set to hear that the investigation into six complaints about an incident at Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council is due to be completed on October 21.

Although MK Council has not revealed the nature of the complaints, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has been told that they refer to a meeting on March 6 this year, which ended abruptly after a blazing row.

And the town clerk says the investigation has not helped the situation.

“It’s like sitting on a powder keg,” said town clerk Delia Shephard, who responsible for the day to day running of the council. “When we send emails it’s like treading on egg shells.

“I never want to go through any situation like that again, it was awful and the lowest point of my career. But there has been a long history of issues, with lots of complaints over time.

“I think things aren’t as bad as they were but it could go back to that at any time,” she said. “We are now in a pre-election period before May where councillors are deciding whether to stand again.”

According to media reports at the time on March 6 the drama erupted at an evening meeting at the Methodist Hall, in Queensway, when a charity campaigner was accused of hogging the floor for too long. Accusations of racism were made and the police were involved.

The cause of the row was Fenny Stratford George Street community Centre, which was ‘sold’ to the town council for £1 by Milton Keynes Council more than two years ago. The lease to the charity was then up for negotiation.

Delia Shephard said it was all over a “misunderstanding” after the town council took over responsibilities for the community centre, which now has a new management committee. She admitted that the town council had made its share of mistakes.

“Some people could not understand that Milton Keynes Council does not own the centre and that the town council is now the landlord,” she said.

“Now things are completely different and the council has a normal relationship with the charity. We are very keen to work with them and help them but we cannot run it for them.”

But instead of the investigation clearing the air, the clerk says it has lead to councillors taking “entrenched positions.” She says the council would welcome training for councillors.

Despite some “residual” problems Delia Shephard says Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council, is improving its performance. The council has a budget of just short of £650,0000, paid for by council tax payers.

“The council needs to improve and has been doing that,” she said. “Aspects of performance have improved.”