Friday, November 25, 2016

Oakham Christmas Tree Decoration

Oakham Christmas Tree Decoration

Almost all Oakham Town Councillors who now serve on our parish council are now keen
to serve the community.

Although laws governing the council may make it look like it does not want to.

The Christmas tree is a fine example of this. I think most members support the community
involvement in decorating the town tree. Something which groups and members of our community
have been keen to carry out for a number of years.
They have often been stopped due to Elf and Safety nonsense, claimed by at least one member,
who is often seen ignoring those rules swinging from ladders around town and the parks.

One community member set up a facebook page calling for people to decorate the tree,
but due to a few members not wanting community or even member involvement the
council was restructured and we can not give consent in time.

The Mayor agrees via email that the restructuring has not worked.

The major issue is the council is only having one meeting a month and some important
decisions are being made outside that meeting.

The law says all decisions have to be made at meetings not via telephone, emails etc.

So when a member of the community wants us to consent to something like organising
a Christmas tree decorating group. The Council can not give consent in time.
As a Councillor I can say I support the proposal, but the law prevents me from saying yes go ahead
very frustrating, but the law is designed to keep a parish council working as a team*. (*that is not a joke)

The problem with Oakham Town Council it lost the meaning of being a team many
years ago and this year has seen that become even worse.

Even if the council wanted to give a group consent to decorate the tree it can't because
we won't be holding our next meeting some five weeks since the last and after all
the planned Christmas events.

They way things are going the community will soon be required to submit request of
their council at least a year in advance.

At least one other member has written to the chairman complaining about the
lack of meetings and their desire to be involved in decision making. The chairman
has said he is considering bringing restructuring back to council on the 14th December,
I hope he does. Most of the changes were brought in because the ex Clerk complained
about the work load of having two meetings a month and a few members think we are a
county council and the parish council should operate like one. We can not afford to employ lots
of staff to make delegated decisions.

Rutland Radio were this morning due to broadcast an interview this morning with
the resident who organised the facebook event this weekend.
This appears to have been dropped and replaced by comments made by Rob Persani
he said he did not know which Sunday the tree would be decorated  and mentioned
insurance concerns.
I agree with the chairman of the council there would be an insurance concern if consent
was given outside our meeting as there would be no minute to show we had given consent
and noted the risks etc. I believe the risks would be very tiny and of little concern to
any insurance company as up and down the country many members of the community
put up trees in towns and villages. Has any one seen how Uppingham put up its decoration.
Older men swinging from lamp post etc all done at their own risk, can be viewed on the towns web cam

Maybe we can sort out this properly for next year? Although if text message I received from Chairman Adam Lowe is true we may not need to decorate it. 
He tell me he is planning on getting the council to agree buying a tree made out of recycled milk bottles, can it get any worse?

This is the latest update from the Chairman of the council, This is also a difficult one for
Adam as I know he wants to please the community.

Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2016 at 12:30 PM
From: "Adam Lowe"
To: "Martin Brookes" , "Vince Howard" , "Sally Anne Wadsworth" , "Stan Stubbs" , "Joyce Lucas" , "Peter Ind" , "Richard Haynes" , MJHaley
Subject: Re: Christmas Tree


I met Paul and Ben with Vince.

We  have not given any permission for the public to decorate the tree. The Town Council (PPWG) decorate the tree, we did last year, year before the public did their own thing.

The public have stated this is their intention again this year.

The tree was decorated last year my myself and my wife, I was very much a part of the PPWG back then and wanted to ensure OTC had a tree that did not get the same ridicule and last year went O.K.

What the meeting with Paul, Ben and Vince was for was to explain:

The public cannot clamber all over the tree and decorate it.

That myself and Vince would be at the tree at the agreed time when we (OTC Cllrs) will decorate the tree using an approved ladder and process so the public are not at risk.

There are already christmas decorations that I and my wife bought last year in preparation for this which have been wired so they can be fixed securely to the tree. These decorations did not come out any OTC budget, we paid for them and they represent a donation to the Town.

It may be that the public may well attach the decorations to the lower branches, however this will be under Town Council supervision, the whole exercise was to step in before the public lept into action, which they will do, and have a controlled public and Town Council spirited working event that was going to happen anyway.

As regards timing's, the idea is that Sunday 27 at 10am, however this is subject to LITE ensuring the lights are on the tree, if not then it pushes back to Sunday 4 at 10am.

Once we had confirmed all details (LITE) then an e-mail would of been going round the Cllrs.

Adam Lowe