Reader column: ‘Public slow to praise but quick to criticise’

Pocklington Town Council's offices on George Street.
Pocklington Town Council's offices on George Street.

The Pocklington Post has been seeking someone to send in their opinions, especially if they have an individual take on a particular issue.

So far no-one has been brave enough (or foolish enough) to come forward. In a small town it is almost impossible to swim against the tide as nearly everyone is inter-connected with circles of friends, neighbours and relations. I will stick my head above the parapet to give a personal view of the town council.

I think councillors have a thankless task as the public is slow to praise and quick to criticise and, of course, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I think people who become councillors do so with the right motives, wanting to make a difference in the town.

However, they may find unexpected constraints and that their job is more difficult if they have little support from people in the town.

In theory the public is invited to attend council meetings but up to now these have not been properly advertised. I believe dates and times are required to be posted in a ‘central, conspicuous place – three full working days before the meeting.’

Ideally there would be a notice outside the council office, on a notice board in town, in the local press and on the town website. If residents were aware of agenda items and how to contact the chair of particular committees they might be able to provide helpful information.

When the minutes of council meetings have been approved they should be in the public domain and full minutes should be sent to the editor of the local paper.

The annual accounts should be made available on request as the annual return sent to residents does not show detail and rate payers are entitled to know how their money is being spent.

Full council meetings generally take place on the second Wednesday of the month in the council chamber on George Street at 7pm and sub-committee meetings are held at other times and also open to the public.

The Annual Town Meeting is due to take place on October 28 at Pocklington Arts Centre.

The new council website looks promising and should answer some of the above concerns.

We are fortunate in this country to have freedom of information and freedom of the press. In an open society decisions can be made without fear or favour. However, just as justice has to be seen to be done so also democracy has to be seen to be working.