Council could sever ties with group following complaints

NBEN 15-06-12 BE 38 A view of Belper Parks nature reserve from coppice car park.
NBEN 15-06-12 BE 38 A view of Belper Parks nature reserve from coppice car park.

A council is set to consider terminating its relationship with a voluntary organisation which protects Belper Parks following complaints about the way the group is run.

Amber Valley Borough Council will consider ending its “irretrievable” arrangement with the Friends of Belper Parks after officers said in a report they were spending too much time dealing with issues raised by and about the group.

However, the group has hit back at the claims, accusing the council of “hypocrisy”.

Allegations about members which are detailed in the report range from bullying to people being banned from meetings to people being “distressed and disgusted” by the way some members behaved.

One member is also alleged to have threatened to call the police on another member if they attended one of the meetings, the report said.

The claims began in June this year when several residents signed a letter to the council expressing concerns.

The report states: “Officers cannot reconcile the disproportionate amount of time they are devoting to address issues raised by and about the group at a time of significant financial challenges and competing demands on council resources.

It continued: “Any such delay would also perpetuate the exclusion of those members of the public who would like to dedicate some of their time and energy to caring for an improving Belper Parks but who are discouraged from 
doing so by the current governance of the Friends of Belper Parks Group.”

The group has no legal or contractual relationship with the council – which has ultimate responsibility for the parks.

Spokesman for the friends group, Dave Fisher , said this week: “We will be making a very robust reply.

“Basically they don’t like us saying they have got things wrong.

“We have put 1,600 person hours of work and raised £19,000 in the last year, which requires a lot of contact with landscape servcies.

“The borough council is being very hypocritical on bullying. If you don’t pay your council tax you get a red letter and taken to court. We will not be bullied.

“One of the members became rude and abusive so we had to ban them from meetings. You have to meet certain criteria to go to school and it’s the same with this group.”