Haverhill Town Council met at the town’s arts centre last night (Tuesday, September 24) and dished out criticism to numerous people and organisations as well as seeing cash raised from the inaugural Haverhill Summer Bash presented to three charities.
At the beginning of the meeting town clerk Will Austin told councillors that St Edmundsbury Council’s Vision 2031 had been passed and a proposal from Cambridgeshire County Council to aim to reintroduce a Haverhill to Cambridge rail link had been rejected.
Deputy mayor Maureen Byrne expressed her anger at fellow borough councillor Karen Richardson, who chairs both the group that passed the document and the Haverhill Area Working Party (HAWP) which regretted missing the boat and not voicing its criticisms in time.
“I’m absolutely incensed with Karen Richardson as we tried to het HAWP to adopt our amendments as they’re not jus the town council’s but through meeting with residents – how dare she not see this is what the residents of Haverhill want and just let it slip through and I think we should question what she is here for if it’s not to represent Haverhill residents,” she said.
Cllr Clive Turner added: “The document is called Haverhill Vision 2031, so to not hear the voice of residents and criticism of it is an absolute abhorrence.”
Cllr Byrne then said: “We need to question exactly what Cllr Richardson’s commitment to this town as a councillor is,” to which Mr Austin said would have to be done outside the meeting.
Inspector Peter Ferrie then revealed the latest crime statistics, showing that total crime, violent crime, sex and serious sex crime, other burglary (outbuildings, thefts, etc), vehicle crime, criminal damage and arson and anti social behaviour have all fallen.
However, drug crime, home burglaries and robberies have all risen, which Insp Ferrie attributed to the growing drugs ‘menace’ in Haverhill, which police have been actively targeting recently.
Concerns were also raised about rough sleepers in the Duddery Hill allotments, which police are aware of and have been working with to find housing.
Although the total cash raised from the inaugural Summer Bash has yet to be calculated, £2,000 was donated to Lamph and £750 each to REACH and Haverhill Scouts and Guides.
Organiser David Doughty thanked the towen council for its support and pledged to have a bigger and better event next year spread over two days with one day a paid-for entry event held at the New Croft.
Captain Andrew Payne updated the council on the work of Haverhill Town Pastors, and mayor Roger André said he was ‘humbled’ by their work and thanked him for their contributed to the town.
Capt Payne said they may seek cash from the council before the scheme enters its third year next June.
Mr Austin said the lease is being formalised for the town council to take the former magistrates’ court in Camps Road off Suffolk County Council, though was unsure if the £12,000 per annum figure in the draft sent was an amount being sought or just a figure left on the template.
Cllr Byrne said Haverhill ‘should not forgive or forget’ what the county has done in not gifting the building to the town, as it gifted the Chalkstone Middle School site to Care UK for a new Place Court, and that taxpayers are effectively paying for what they have already paid for.
Mr Austin said it had been suggested to him that as a council employee rather than counccilor he should not vote on the ONE Haverhill board, though councillors rejected this.
Councillors again called for ONE Haverhill meetings to be open to the public, with Cllr Byrne saying: “ONE Haverhill should be open to the public.
“I do not believe in corridor enclosed meetings of this sort, particularly when we have people making decisions that are not elected on behalf of Haverhill and I don’t know why it has never been open to the public.
“There is some concern that the volunteers on ONE could be criticised, yet we here are all volunteers and are criticised daily.
“You either have the stamina and the commitment to deal with that or you have not.”
Cllr Clive Turner said: “We want transparency about what is being decided about what happens in Haverhill.”
The pilot scheme umbrella group of different community organisations is setting a community budget for the town and aspires to improve youth provision and opportunities.
Only six of more than 20 board members are elected, and the board does not allow the public to attend meetings despite having a taxpayer-funded £110,000 youth budget – of which £80,000 has already been spent – and hiring Karen Chapple as a youth skills manager on an annual salary of £28,000.
ONE has already been criticised for its secrecy by the town council, which has three members on its board (Mr Austin and Cllrs Ernie Goody and mayor Roger André), but it was Suffolk county councillor Tony Brown who called for the group to be open at its board meeting.
Borough Cllr Gordon Cox suggested instead of having a clock at the bus station to have a cheap clock there an a piece of artwork clock opposite Queen Square as people there cannot see the St Mary’s Church clock, the Cangle clock or the new one planned for Jubilee Walk.
Cllr Pat Hanlon said that would be ‘a waste of taxpayers’ money’, while Cllr Betty McLatchy said ‘just how many clocks do we need in this town?’
Cllr Byrne said: “Most people have a mobile phone or a watch and I would rather see a fantastic investment in a clock by the bus station as we discussed.”
Cllr Byrne also said Haverhill should aim to have its Remembrance Sunday service at 11am rather than having to wait until the afternoon after the borough service kin Bury St Edmunds.
“We should have it at Haverhill in the morning, not wait until the afternoon when the Bury (St Edmunds) mayor and the MP have finished their bit and I think it’s really disrespectful that we can’t have it here at 11am.
“Why have we got to wait until the afternoon when the rest of the county do it at 11am?”
Mr Austin advised it would probably be too late to organise it for this year, but Cllr Byrne said she was more targeting 2014 and future years as the town council could take over organisation of the service from the borough council.
For a full report and all the latest news see tomorrow’s (Thursday, September 26) Echo.