Accusations fly over election expense claims at Sidlesham meeting

Sidlesham
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A PARISH council meeting lasted a matter of minutes before descending into uncertainty last Wednesday (July 15).

Chairman Diana Pound suspended Sidlesham’s meeting after a member of the public pointed out councillors made a mistake in not declaring election expenses to the district council prior to the May parish elections.

Sidlesham

Sidlesham

Paul Albrecht, of Mill Lane, Sidlesham, sent a letter to the Observer this week after saying he had spent ‘weeks’ trying to find out how much had been spent on the leaflets, with no reply from councillors.

He said it was revealed at the meeting the cost was £106, a sum which was not declared to Chichester District Council.

Cllr Pound was one of those accused of not filling in paperwork correctly.

She has since approached the district council with the forms correctly filled in and the matter was resolved.

“Yes, I made a mistake but that’s now been rectified and the district council are happy,” she said yesterday.

“The main test of this is that the district council are perfectly happy so we’re having a meeting next Monday.”

Cllr Pound was elected chairman at the May election.

However she has been a member of Sidlesham Parish Council for about ten years.

She said the error happened in her case because she filled in her form a number of weeks prior to the deadline as she knew she would be away on that date.

“I filed mine early because I was going to be away and was going to miss the deadline,” she said. “I took them in early and my expenses were nil.

“Five weeks later I paid for some literature to be printed and totally forgot.”

She said she should have amended the expenses form but had now done so once the error was pointed out.

According to the unapproved minutes, published on the parish council’s website, Mr Albrecht told Cllr Pound at the meeting if any councillor had not submitted expense declarations correctly, they were not entitled to sit on the parish council or vote.

Other councillors were unsure whether they had submitted their forms and the meeting was postponed until the clerk established which councillors submitted their forms and could legally take part in meetings.

Cllr Pound also told the Observer: “The people on the parish council all want to serve the community. That’s why they’re there and there’s lots for us to do.”

Monday’s meeting takes place at 7pm in the church hall, in Church Lane.

Chichester District Council confirmed the matter had now been dealt with.

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