Sandown Community Partnership disbands due to ‘unsubstantiated adverse comments’

The Sandown Community Partnership has disbanded due to “unsubstantiated adverse comments” according to its former chairman. 

The partnership become embroiled in controversy in August when its secretary and Sandown Town Council Mayor, Cllr Jacquie Mereweather, failed to disclose an allowance paid to her by the partnership on her declaration of interests.

An IW Observer investigation into Cllr Mereweather was the result of speculation that tax payer’s money had been wasted on the failed junior skatepark project at Sandham Gardens.

Jacquie Mereweather

She then resigned from the partnership on August 22, writing that she has been put in “a very precarious position” as mayor has decided to resign as secretary to “protect my integrity” as she was “not prepared to take responsibility for any mistakes” made in the commissioning of the junior skatepark.

Following an explosive Sandown Town Council meeting on September 5 in which the police were called, Cllr Gary Young, then partnership chairman, allegedly accused local Reverend Mark Williams of being “un-Christian” and was asked to “apologise or resign” by the vicar.

The meeting was closed by Cllr Mereweather after she faced questions regarding the skatepark and refused to answer them, as well as denying standing order requests from Cllr Debbie Andre (Sandown North).

Residents prepare to go quietly after police called to council meeting – from L to R: Yetta Elkins, Tiena Eccles, Jackie Joyce, Gloria Crouch, Colin Midmore, Jane Cresdee Midmore, ex-Cllr Eric Lawson, Stephen J Parkes.

Ex-chairman of the partnership, Cllr Young wrote in a statement on Wednesday (September 26): “It is with regret that after 18 years the Sandown Community Partnership has formally disbanded due to the many unsubstantiated adverse comments made against them.

“They have brought investment into Sandown of over £600,000 since their formation which has not only improved Sandown but also helped small organisations.

“As the town council takes on more responsibility from IW Council the partnership is no longer needed. Now that the new Sandown Association has been formed we hope they will bring new ideas forward and we wish them all success.

Cllr Gary Young

“The partnership will no longer be administering the popular Sandown Honour Trail on the seafront but all outstanding orders will however be honoured. Arrangements will be put in place for the trail to continue.

“All financial commitments to Sandown Town Council have been honoured and any remaining money will, according to their Terms of Reference, be donated to a local charity.

“They thank their loyal members, past and present, for their volunteer time and input they have made over the years.

“No further statements will be forthcoming.”

Alan Jones, founding member of the newly created Sandown Community Association said: “They’ve done good work in the past but unfortunately, it finished up with much too heavy a presence of council people.

“They should have had some other people in. I think it’s good they’ve disbanded, but I think there’s an open in for someone else to take over that mantle. It has been suggested that the newly formed community association may be looked at.

“It might be something we ask the town if they’d like us to do it, but it would be a democratic decision and not the case of leaping in there.”

The Sandown Community Association holds its first Annual General Meeting on November 2, at 7pm in the Methodist Church Hall, York Road.

A spokesman for resident’s group Sandown HUB said: “Sandown HUB have for some time had major concerns with the lack of transparency and accountability of the Sandown Community Partnership.

“We refute the claim that there were unsubstantiated adverse allegations. The community partnership have consistently refused to respond to questions and have declined to publish any accounts, minutes of meetings or even to confirm who their members are.

“Sandown HUB are pleased have played a major part in raising awareness that the Community Partnership largely consists of Sandown Town Councillors and that they have been paying regular allowances to the former Secretary/Treasurer, Mayor Jacquie Mereweather.

“We have recently contacted the Partnership for clarification of costs relating to the failed Junior Skatepark project but have not received a reply. We will continue to seek clarification from the town council.”