Long Preston Parish Council chairman steps down and calls for ‘attacks’ to stop (From Craven Herald)
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Long Preston Parish Council chairman steps down and calls for ‘attacks’ to stop
9:00am Friday 1st February 2013 in News
A councillor exonerated following a probe into claims of wrong-doing in his employment by Long Preston Parish Council has called on his opponents to stop attacking him.
Nick Thwaite, who has resigned as chairman after five years in the job but remains a councillor, was at the centre of a storm over payment of his village grass cutting contract.
He said: “The personal consequences of some of these attacks and frivolous complaints have been great.
“My family has suffered needlessly but I’m grateful for their strong and consistently strong support. My professional life has also suffered.”
Coun Thwaite was pilloried by some residents who claimed that he had brought the office of chairman into disrepute by taking on the role of lengthman.
An investigation by police concluded there was no case to answer and an inquiry by Craven District Council’s review committee ruled that the office of chairman had not been brought into disrepute.
Coun Thwaite, who was married in May, gave up his contract, which involved grass cutting, amid the accusations.
He has now been appointed as Yorkshire Dales National Park member champion for recreational management and chairman of the standards committee.
He said: “Of all the numerous unfounded complaints against me I have been consistently exonerated.
“Much of the criticism has had no foundation or relevance to council business and no complaints have been raised as a result of the excessive Freedom of Information demands.
“The use of rumour and speculation – all blatantly in error and designed to undermine my chairmanship and the work of the council – is an abuse of the right to free speech.
“It leads to very able and professional individuals who could be of great benefit to the council avoiding becoming involved for fears of criticism from a small misguided group.”
He stressed, however, that his reason for resigning as chairman was primarily to take on his new responsibilities with the national park.
Despite the problems, he said the council had set up working relationships with a number of village organisation and had been successful in buying the former Baptist Burial Ground.
Sewerage problems near the Boars Head and post office had been resolved, a new bus shelter set up and drainage issues on Greengates Lane had been sorted out.
Coun Thwaite, who has another 17 months in office, said he was grateful to all the clerks and fellow councillors who had supported him.