Row continues to rage at Briston Parish Council
The bitter personal disputes which are continuing to hamper a north Norfolk parish council were laid bare in a meeting this week when one councillor was described as 'a thief and a nuisance.'
Councillor David Chambers made the comment about councillor Kevin Craske who was returning to Briston Parish Council, near Fakenham, for the first time since being carried out of a meeting in his chair and placed in the car park for refusing to leave the room, last month.
During Monday night's meeting Mr Chambers said: 'I feel deeply hurt. I have been unfairly portrayed as a bully and Mr Craske has made several standards board complaints against me.
'He has even called the police on me for calling him a weasel as most people know him to be and I now call you in public a thief and a nuisance.
'I have never known the council to be taken up so much by one person interrupting meetings and quoting a load of legal rubbish.
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'This has got to stop because if it carries on I shall resign and I'm sure others will as well. It is about time this council spent more time on council matters.'
Mr Chambers' theft allegation relates to a youth caf�, called Loftys, which Mr Craske was involved in.
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This was run through the Higginbottom Recreational Charity, of which Briston Parish Council is a trustee.
The caf� closed down and Mr Craske has kept some of the equipment including a pizza oven, a blender, chopping boards and some stock at his home, which he says, as a trustee, he is entitled to do.
He was, however, accused of theft and questioned by police who decided to take no further action.
Mr Craske said after the meeting: 'I am not a thief and the police decided to not make any charges against me. I feel this was an unfair personal attack on me.'
Meanwhile, councillor Joan Denton, the council's finance officer, told the meeting that she would make a complaint to the standards board about Mr Craske, for the way she believes he has spoken to her.
We reported on the front page of the EDP on Thursday how a Briston Parish Council meeting on September 7 descended into farce when police were called and Mr Craske, 57, was lifted up in his chair by two fellow councillors, one of which was Mr Chambers, and put in the car park.
Council chairman Tony Serne had ordered Mr Craske to leave so that the council could discuss a confidential employment matter related to his wife Sandra, 53, who has been clerk of the council for 23 years but is now suspended.
The council believed that Mr Craske should have declared a prejudicial interest but he argued that the agenda was not correctly worded so there was no legal reason for him to leave.
On Monday night, however, Mr Craske did leave the room when requested so that the council could discuss a confidential employment matter and a confidential trust matter.
He said after the meeting: 'The agenda was still not entirely correct as there is duplicity of items on one agenda point but it is much better than last time so I thought I would do the reasonable thing and leave without fuss.
'I am a reasonable man. I just feel that I have a duty as a councillor to ensure that things are done correctly.' Three councillors, Ronald Eggleton, Dorothy Pummell and Duncan Jeary have resigned since the May elections.
Mr Jeary, who was vice chairman of the council, said yesterday: 'I resigned because we keep going round in circles with personal disputes, it is like a game of cat and mouse and everything gets blown out of proportion.
'I joined the council to help put up the Christmas lights and do odd jobs around the village but too much time is being spent on these personal disputes and we are being made to look like fools.
'People keep trying to trip each other up and I think they just need to have their heads banged together and to grow up.
'I like to speak my mind and be open about things but, it seems, whenever you do that you are threatened with a standards board complaint. I had just had enough of it.'
Meanwhile, a member of the public watching Monday night's meeting said Briston Parish Council should be proud of the way it conducts itself.
Before Mr Chambers' comments, the meeting had gone without any major disagreements and Adrian Springett, from Hunworth, near Holt, attended after reading last week's story.
During a public forum midway through the meeting, Mr Springett said the conduct at Briston Parish Council was far better than that displayed at Stody Parish Council, which has responsibility for Hunworth.
Mr Springett said: 'From what I have seen tonight I would be lucky to have a council that behaves like you do. Ours is an utter shambles.
'At the last council meeting one councillor continued to shout people down and called parishioners cartoon characters and the council like a Punch and Judy show. At least you don't do that and I genuinely congratulate you for the way you go about your business.'