They are calling it the Mundesley mutiny... more than a quarter of the parish council has quit after a stormy meeting which has left the seaside village in disarray.

The departure of four councillors is the latest twist in a saga that has gripped the community for six months.

The furious row was sparked by concerns over the parish council's spending after it announced a staggering 52.8pc rise in its share of council tax earlier this year.

Eastern Daily Press: An aerial view of the small coastal community of MundesleyAn aerial view of the small coastal community of Mundesley (Image: Mike Page)

It has since escalated into a bitter dispute over the way the authority is run and its transparency, with critics saying it has cast a shroud of secrecy over its affairs and left villagers in the dark about what is going on.

The increasingly acrimonious row has seen thousands of pounds spent on lawyers, meeting minutes go missing, a clerk leave in mysterious circumstances and forensic auditors called in to pore over the accounts.

Officials from North Norfolk District Council - which oversees the parish - and the Norfolk Association of Local Councils have also tried to help resolve matters. But all attempts have so far failed.

The four councillors - Karen Day, Kathryn Moore, Judeline Nicholas and Laura Stango - issued an extraordinary joint statement before resigning at a meeting on Monday, saying their action was intended to be "a wake-up call" and to make the rest of the village aware of its "failing" council.

They complained they had been met with "abuse" and "put downs" when trying to raise concerns about how the authority was operating.

The council's leaders, meanwhile, have said they are unable to comment on the mass resignation. They claim it relates to “confidential matters”, adding: “These things happen.”

Eastern Daily Press: The Mundesley Parish Council officesThe Mundesley Parish Council offices (Image: Archant Norfolk 2013)


The council has responsibilities for the upkeep of public areas in the village and its toilets, as well as issues like street lighting and dog mess bins.

It gets its budget from its 'precept' - which is its share of residents' overall council tax bill.

The roots of the row go back to March when the council announced that its precept would rise by 52.8pc. This followed a 23pc increase the previous year.

It meant the average Mundesley taxpayer went from paying £49.69 last year to £75.91.

This led to widespread uproar in the community with people calling for answers as to why they were being made to pay the huge increase and what the council was spending money on.

The minutes of a council meeting in March where the issue was discussed were not uploaded to the council's website - as is usual - leading to further frustration among villagers.

Eastern Daily Press: Chariman Christopher West inside the Mundesley Maritime MuseumChariman Christopher West inside the Mundesley Maritime Museum (Image: Newsquest)


A month later, the council's clerk left her post.

The council initially said she had been suspended but later backtracked and said she was simply "absent".

The authority has declined to give any information about the issue. But there is no suggestion of any impropriety on behalf of the clerk, who has declined to comment.

Since she left, the parish council has spent £2,600 on locum clerks.

Following her departure, the council also engaged a law firm Worknest, which it has since paid more than £6,000.



Questions over the council's finances were a key topic in the local elections in May, with some councillors - including some of those who have now quit - voted in on a platform of raising questions about the steep tax hike.

In June, an internal audit was conducted finding a number of discrepancies in the way the parish council's financial records were kept.

The council then agreed to call in forensic auditors to further review its accounts and carry out a “thorough investigation” of its governance.

Eastern Daily Press: Mundesley Beach is a popular getaway spot in the summer monthsMundesley Beach is a popular getaway spot in the summer months (Image: Newsquest)


Locals say one of their main sources of frustration has been the lack of information about what is going on.

A local businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “It seems there are a lot of financial issues going on but this is being kept closeted.

"There are lots of things discussed in confidence during meetings. This leaves so much unanswered and it should come to light.”

One bone of contention - and cause of annoyance to some of the councillors who resigned this week - has been the 'missing' minutes from the crucial March meeting where the tax rise was discussed.

Another has been the lack of information from the council about the clerk's departure and the payments to the law firm.

Some councillors argue the payments should have been agreed by the full council - not just a sub-committee - and that they all should have been kept better informed about what the money is for.

The district council and the Norfolk Association of Local Councils - which helps advise authorities - have been asked for their assistance to resolve the disagreements, but the tensions remained.

Eastern Daily Press: Laura Stango, one of the quitting membersLaura Stango, one of the quitting members (Image: Mundesley Parish Council)


Matters came to a head this week with the mutineers resigning.

In a joint statement, they said: “Mundesley Parish Council is failing. Sadly, the only way we can bring this to parishioners’ attention, and as a wake-up call to the council, is by our four resignations. We did not do this lightly.

“We have spent four months trying to change behaviour internally, to address the past and present lack of due diligence, the conflicts of interest, and the lax management of taxpayer money.

“We've been met with abuse, put-downs or just been plain ignored. Even now, we find ourselves still asking, what is driving their reluctance to do the right thing?”

Eastern Daily Press: Judeline Nicholas, who has resigned from the councilJudeline Nicholas, who has resigned from the council (Image: Judeline Nicholas)

The 13-member council now has just nine members. It is still able to function and is seeking replacements.

In response to the mass resignation, Mr West, who is also a director of North Norfolk Railway, said: “I wouldn’t like to comment. They are all good councillors but sometimes people have different opinions and their own views on things."

He added: “Sometimes I think it is easier to run a railway than a parish council.”


In a strange twist, days after the councillors issued their resignation statement, the missing minutes from March, where the tax rise was discussed, were published online.

They contained a lengthy explanation in which Mr West claimed the steep hike was because the precept not been raised for the past eight years.

He also said the council faced rising costs from energy, staff salaries and the removal of asbestos from its properties.

However, the departing councillors say the minutes do not address all their concerns.

Ms Moore said: "We still haven't been given proper answers for anything. It has meant currently very little is being done for the village. The council just isn't functioning."

Bev Reynolds, the vice chairman, said: "We can't comment on issues that are private and confidential. We are united as a council and intend to do whatever we can for the parish."