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Conservatives say No to wider consultation on Urchfont Closure

January 31, 2012 3:35 PM

On Monday a Wiltshire Council Committee has challenged the ruling Conservative Administration's decision to sell off Urchfont Manor and end the much valued Adult Education services provided on the premises.

The Committee says that the Conservative Cabinet failed to consult most of the people involved in the Manor, including the Manor's own Management Committee.

Cllr Jeff Osborn, Lib Dem Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, said "This is typical of the Conservatives; taking decisions that affect thousands of people, without even stopping to ask for the local knowledge that's needed.

"With the Council finances in the terrible state they are, it's probably true that significant changes need to be made at Urchfont Manor. However, any changes that need to be made could be far less damaging if local interested parties were simply asked for their involvement and input.

"The Lib Dems are championing local involvement and proper consultation, so that even when times are tough, the Council can make decisions with the help of those who know the situation best; the local people who use the Council's services."

Jon Hubbard, Lib Dem Group Leader, said "What is telling here, is that the Conservative Cabinet couldn't even muster enough support amongst their own backbench members to support them in the Scrutiny meeting.

"Yet again, we are seeing the Conservative admin forcing through decisions without telling people all of the facts. If they have a compelling case for closing this much loved and cherished community resource then why not be honest and tell us about it? Too many decisions are being made behind closed doors, and buried in confidential papers. This isn't a secret society, it's a public body. The Conservative Cabinet must remember that, as councillors, they are elected by the people, for the people, and should conduct Council business accordingly."

Note: Monday 30th January's Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee upheld Jeff Osborn's Call-In on the closure of Urchfont Manor not following procedure.


The Call-In triggered an emergency Conservative Cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon, which chose to reject any further consultation.