Split parish council near Winchester agrees to mediation

Hampshire Chronicle: Councillor Gerry Tull Councillor Gerry Tull

LONG-running problems at a parish council in a village near Winchester appear to have been resolved after councillors agreed to mediation.

Owslebury councillors will discuss their problems with the Hampshire Authority of Local Councils to solve issues dating to a meeting in April 2012 when Cllr Gerry Tull caused a projector to crash to the floor.

He was subsequently arrested and charged with threatening behaviour against chairman Tony Manship, and was given a two-year conditional discharge in December after being convicted by Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Tull apologised for his behaviour to the council at a meeting on December 10 but then stormed out after claiming the meeting was illegal because it was not advertised properly.

After talks with city council monitoring officer Stephen Whetnall, the council agreed to review the decisions taken at the December meeting to avoid Cllr Tull taking his challenge to court.

After reviewing the decisions without objection at the meeting last week, the councillors agreed to mediation to discuss issues such as correct procedures and communication between councillors.

Parish clerk Liz Manship said: “We want the mediation to go ahead but we must follow the proper process. Mr Whetnall has suggested we discuss our exact terms of reference and the focus should be to move forward and it could involve discussions on how the council should approach procedures.”

Cllr Roger Page added: “I feel that we should be able to voice our opinions and have a healthy discussion and then take a vote on proposals and leave it at that without all this to do we have had recently over opinions.

“We are here voluntarily and agree that procedures have to be followed properly but it has got to be done in such a manner that we can agree to disagree and behave in a reasonable manner.”

Cllr Tull said the council would benefit from having a physical rulebook to refer to when making decisions to avoid confusion or controversy.

He said: “Everything I feel about this comes back to the same item which is a book of rules on our table. We need to know what we can do and how we can do it.”

After the meeting Cllr Tull said he was happy to move on after resolving his issues over the legality of the previous meeting.

He said: “There were some items I raised from the previous meeting and as long as they are marked in the minutes that I feel they are unsafe that’s good enough for me.”

The items included remarks from the clerk that Mr Tull sent rude emails but she amended her comments to state it was her perception.

He added: “All the alleged mischief that’s gone on could have been resolved by sitting down and talking about it and I’m quite happy now that that will happen.”

Cllr Manship added: “We are all happy with mediation and I hope we can move forward.”

PC Richard Nolan, the local beat officer, gave a report on recent issues and stayed for the whole meeting.

The council will now arrange the session through the city council.

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