Mass resignations leave Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council ‘unable to function’

Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council is located over the two villages of Northaw and Cuffley. Picture

Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council is located over the two villages of Northaw and Cuffley. Picture: Supplied. - Credit: Archant

Councillors and officers at Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council resigned last Friday – leaving the council paralysed.

Barry Knichel from SCANGB. Picture: Kevin Lines.

Barry Knichel from SCANGB. Picture: Kevin Lines. - Credit: Archant

The three councillors - Jane Brook, Fred Allgood and Eric Wilcox - have cited the "sustained pressure" by Green Belt group Save Cuffley and Northaw Green Belt (SCANGB) members.

They claim SCANGB supporters sent multiple - sometimes over 60 in one day, according to remaining councillor Chairman Brent Cheetham - aggressive and personally hostile emails.

The deputy clerk Carol Branigan and finance officer Hilary Walker also resigned on the same time. The resignations mean the council cannot function, according to Ms Brook.

SCANGB member and councillor Barry Knichel dismissed the concerns that his group made concerted efforts to undermine the council and claims that the parish council was simply not used to sustained pressure.

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Cllr Knichel said: "I would not say we hounded them, but we did challenge them.

"We wanted to set the bar quite high [on saving our Green Belt] and nothing was happening."

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He added that many of his members and Northaw and Cuffley residents were "exasperated" by the lack of action by the parish council on carrying out an air quality assessment study and not replying to emails addressed to them by residents.

However Cllr Knichel did acknowledge that the planning consultants - hired by the parish - also resigned citing the "unprofessional behaviour" of SCANGB members in their interactions to them.

He thinks that it is more the "direct challenging way" they were talking to them and claimed that they will fight this resignation.

"It didn't have to be like this. It was months in the making an unfortunately this was how things unfolded."

A parish councillor also resigned in October after a bullet was sent to them in the post.

Herts police have so far made no arrests in connection with this crime but a spokeswoman said: "the investigation is ongoing, with officers conducting extensive enquiries to trace the offender(s).

"Anyone with information should call the non-emergency number 101 quoting crime reference 41/96413/19."

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