Chapel St Leonards councillor left out in the cold

Locked out!
Locked out!

A Chapel St Leonards parish councillor was left out in the cold when she arrived at the office for her Saturday surgery to find the locks had been changed.

Coun Rae Rigby, who is in her 70s, is one of five parish councillors who have been on a rota to run weekly surgeries inside the office in Ancaster Avenue.

There is absolutely no requirement for councillors to hold surgeries in the office

Michael Green, parish clerk

A resolution was made in closed session at last weeks’s parish council meeting to restrict key holders to ‘safeguard data protection’ requirements.

But Coun Rigby said she was expecting to be informed when any arrangements had been put in place and turned up for her surgery as usual.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I arrived to find the locks had been changed. I went home to fetch a picnic table and garden chair out of my garage and set up outside.

“One passer-by asked what I was doing and when i explained was very disgusted. Someone else who couldn’t believe it took pictures to put on social media. Then a motorist pulled up and asked where Chapel St Leonards was and I shouted back, ‘you’re in it!’

“A couple came about a letter to East Lindsey District Council regarding potholes and some people just stopped to find out what was going on.

“Coun Christine Young came to support me when she heard what had happened. We were there for two hours and it was really cold, but someone was kind enough to bring hot coffee.

“We just don’t understand why they have done this because everything that is private is locked away. The surgeries are a service to the community – something which we have chosen to do.”

Coun Rigby was elected last May. In August, vice-chairman Hazel Newcomb resigned after just six days in the post and spoke of the ‘deep issues’ that led to her resignation.

Michael Green, parish clerk, said: “The meeting resolved certain measures, including that in order to protect confidentiality of appropriate documents and to safeguard data protection requirements, key holders to the parish office should be restricted to the parish clerk, the assistant clerk, the chairman of the council and the vice-chairman of the council.

“Coun Mrs Rigby was well aware of this resolution as she was present when the resolution was passed.”

He added: “There is absolutely no requirement for councillors to hold surgeries in the office. All councillors are available at all times with their contacts published on the office window, the parish notice board and on the council website.

“This office is open and staffed five mornings per week to receive and answer (from an informed perspective) any matters of concern from the public.”

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