A community council has been left in turmoil following the block resignation of five of its members – with remaining members set to challenge its subsequently being dissolved by Moray Council.
A letter was issued on Friday to all members of the Innes Community Council by the Community Support Manager at the local authority, informing them that because five of their number had resigned the community council had fallen below minimum specified numbers – and it had subsequently been immediately dissolved.
However, remaining members of the troubled community council insist that an incorrect procedure had been followed and the community council should have been allowed at least three successive meetings in which to address the shortfall.
They are understood to have met on Sunday with a view to writing to the Chief Executive of Moray Council protesting the dissolution of their community council and seeking a continuation while they sought to bring their numbers back to minimum requirements.
The three local councillors serving the Fochabers/Lhanbryde ward in which the community council stands were also informed of the decision. One, Douglas Ross, has said that the community council had suffered difficulties for some time.
He said: “Innes Community Council has had problems for some time and has not operated in the best interests of the community.
“I attend two other community councils in my ward, Lennox and Heldon, and they are shining examples of how people can work together and get things done.
“The resignations from Innes Community Council last week led to council officers deeming it should cease to exist – but this has now been challenged by the remaining members.
“I hope to meet with officers on Monday to discuss this, but whatever the outcome it’s clear that personalities will have to be left at the door if Innes Community Council is ever going to work to its potential.
“Community Councils play a valuable role in Moray but they also need fresh faces with new ideas and if Innes continues or can be re-established at a later date then I think we need to do all we can to get a broad representation of people on board.”
One of the community councillors who remained in place following the resignations is James Mackie, who said: “This was a deliberate ploy by a specific grouping of members of the community to destroy Innes Community Council for personal reasons.
“Those left feel that the current move by Moray Council is premature and is contrary to the Council’s own guidelines for Community Councils.
“It is felt that there should have been an urgent meeting between Council officials and the remaining five Innes Community Council members to resolve the issues.”
The email dissolving the community council warned that if there was a wish for Innes Community Council to resurrected it would require 20 or more electors to present a petition to the democratic services committee.
Mr Mackie said: “The remaining community councillors have already gained 15 signatures of the 20 required to petition the Moray Council to set up a new Innes Community Council.
“Common sense at a time when the Council is facing serious funding cuts is to follow good practice and the guidelines from their own scheme documentation rather than waste Council money and the time of its staff.”