Is cabinet serving the community?

I would like to say how wonderful it was to have one of your reporters present at a Rother District Council meeting.

This has not happened as far as I know for a long time.

It is often through the local Observer that residents can learn what decisions are being made on their behalf and the local press can hold the council to account, rather than relying on what council press releases say. It was with dismay and some frustration that the Rother cabinet refused the modest request for a community grant of £496 to install lights in trees along Station Road for Christmas celebrations in Robertsbridge.

The grant applications are scrutinised in detail by a panel before going to Cabinet to make sure they meet the criteria. There was unanimous agreement by the panel to approve the application.

The approval came to cabinet who refused it based on misinformation and lack of understanding. They said it would set a precedent.

No, community grants have been given for Christmas lighting already.

They said the businesses should contribute. They do.

And the most shocking comment came from one cabinet member, who clearly doesn’t understand parish accounts, by claiming that Salehurst Parish Council had £100,000 in reserves.

This was the same councillor who supported the panel’s approval initially.

Any reserves are earmarked for expenditure already: the taking on of Rother’s car park and toilets, the neighbourhood plan, elections, playground upgrade. The list goes on. Christmas celebrations in Robertsbridge are a time for residents, businesses and traders to get together.

It is not only an event bringing the community together, but one which promotes the shops and community groups.

One cannot blame straightened times as the community grant pot is protected and had £125,150 available.

One is left wondering whether the cabinet system serves the community well.

Cllr Sue Prochak

Salehurst Ward

Rother District Council

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