Bembridge Parish Council compared to Northamptonshire by ex-councillor

At an extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday (August 7), the drama surrounding the sale of a council-owned building raged on. 

Ex-councillor Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley, 83, asked 16 questions of councillors – comparing the parish council’s financial situation to that of Northamptonshire County Council’s “but on a proportionately far worse scale”.

At 7pm in Bembridge Youth & Community Centre members of the public packed the meeting and a police community support officer stood in the back.

Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley

Complaints about council “secrecy”, a speech on the Nolan Principles of openness and accountability and cries of “it’s a fix” were heard from a few parishioners during votes that were often decided six to three on issues such as; reducing number of councillors on the planning committee.

The public and press were excluded from the 5/7 High Street item on the agenda because of “confidential issues” surrounding leasing and staffing said acting chair, Councillor Sheila Weedall.

The drama at Bembridge Parish Council (BPC) meetings stems back to a poll on May 29 which asked the following question: “Do you want Bembridge Parish Council to sell 5/7 High Street – Yes or No?”

The poll concluded on June 28 when the parish voted “no” overwhelmingly, with 602 votes against the sale of Captain Stan’s, to 231 “yes” votes, Isle of Wight Council documents show.

Deciding against the popular vote, BPC listed the property with Gully Howard estate agents who confirmed the advertisement of 5/7 High Street in Bembridge on July 20 with a guide price of £185,000.

BPC own 5/7 High Street which houses public toilets, Captain Stan’s fish shop and the former BPC chambers.

A council meeting on July 17 saw the police called when Mr Hopkinson-Woolley launched into a scathing tirade of the councillors, citing “financial incompetence” as the reason for his speech.

The community support officer at Tuesday’s meeting told IW Observer he wasn’t called to the meeting to keep the peace, he just likes to pop in to council meetings whenever he can.

Bembridge Parish Council and acting chair Cllr Sheila Weedall have been asked for comment.