Councillor Cook replies.....
After reading David Thornton's letter dated 20 March I thought I would just come back on it as I was personally name checked. Whilst I do appreciate his kind words about me leaving Marlborough Town Council and how I will be missed there are a couple of inaccuracies that I want to dispel.
In my time on the Town Council over the past four years there has never been an instance where political block voting has taken place and indeed I voted against the other councillors that serve under the Conservative banner many times if I did not agree. Apart from maybe four Conservative councillors and one Lib Dem all the rest of the council are independents.
Marlborough Town Council is not the reason why I am stepping down. I am stepping down because I have achieved some goals and my passion has now manifested itself into dealing art full time. Indeed the new skills I learnt under my fellow learned councillors and excellent staff that run all local services for the town has been vast. I know how to draft terms of reference now and chair a committee. Before my council work this would of been a compete mystery to me but now I feel more mature and posses a much better tool bag with all kinds of skills and knowledge.
Also Marlborough Town Council is a consultee only and all big decisions are indeed taken by a Conservative cabinet at Wiltshire County Council. The idea that Marlborough Town Council just fold to the will of the Unitary Authority could not be further from the truth as demonstrated by the full body corporate Council's refusal to approve the Rabley Wood View development even though it was passed in a seemingly rather shady manner by the planning inspectorate.
Also I have to take umbrage at the suggestion in Mr Thornton's assessment that "un-budgeted funds fly out the door and vanity projects, expensive consultants and the Town’s vested interests seem to be the beneficiaries". It's easy to sit behind a keyboard and fire out potentially erroneous statements and it can also be incredibly damaging in bringing on new blood to the Town Council.
If I remember correctly in a previous correspondence from Mr Thornton (23 February), he was aghast that we were spending money on a Neighbourhood Plan as he felt it another "vanity" project. He ignores what the plan is and the power it gives to the local people once adopted. Unless we have professional data and consultant based evidence gathering, our Neighbourhood Plan will not be deemed to have been correctly constructed and will be thrown out.... I wonder if Mr Thornton would prefer that outcome?
Also I think it's very important that I point out all work undertaken under Marlborough Town Council including meetings, working parties, etc. are done on a voluntary basis and as such takes a huge amount of time to undertake. There is no salary for councillors at Town Council level and at best a mileage allowance for council related travel, I however have never claimed as I don't begrudge a few quid here and there for diesel.
Yes I would agree that Wiltshire Council is another reason why I don't want to stand for unitary but me not standing has no bearing on me not standing for Marlborough Town Council again. If I had not been there for the last four years would we be over half way through the Neighbourhood Plan? Would there still be a new 02/Vodafone mast in process to help the community? I think not on both accounts and would further impress that I would whole heartedly encourage new un-jaded members of the community to stand for the Town Council this coming May. Perhaps even Mr Thornton would think about standing to actually see first hand the invaluable work that the Town Council does for the town.
I am not really looking for a response from Mr Thornton on this reply and will not be pulled into an utterly useless exercise of back and fourth. It's all about the positive and moving forward for me personally. Also all views and words in this letter reflect my own personal views as an independent Marlborough Town Councillor and in no way reflect the view of the body corporate that is Marlborough Town Council.
Cllr Justin Cook
This correspondance is now closed