Walk-out in row on Liskeard Portas Pilot voting
LISKEARD'S success in becoming a Portas Pilot town was soured when four local councillors stormed out of a public meeting.
They were joined by the town clerk and the chairman of Liskeard's chamber of commerce, among others.
There were almost 300 people at the Public Hall who were given a free vote on the make-up of the management team which would oversee the use of the £100,000 windfall.
But the four councillors and town clerk Andrew Deacon claim the voting procedure was unconstitutional, a view ignored by members of the Liskeard Town Team, which put the bid together, and which was given short shrift by many at the meeting.
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And there could be further cracks within the community with the town team now undecided on whether to co- operate with a television production company planning to come to Liskeard to film a Channel Four documentary on Portas Pilot towns.
It follows adverse criticism by businesses in Margate, Kent, also a Portas Pilot town, over the way their town may be portrayed in the filming.
Roger Holmes, the vice-chairman of Liskeard Town Forum, and a member of the town team, chaired the public meeting. He is also a town councillor and admitted there were some within the council who were less than pleased with the way the Portas bid had been handled.
"I have seldom enjoyed a public meeting more. The determination of the people to make their decisions free of arbitrary regulations was wonderful to experience," he said. "That four councillors walked out was disappointing. They clearly missed the strongly expressed mood of the meeting and appeared to have a problem in accepting new ways of doing things."
One of the councillors who left the meeting, Steve Barrett, said he had no option but to walk out after his and other people's concerns about voting rights were ignored.
"It was about the governance of the Portas town team, which is a sub-group of Liskeard Town Forum," he said.
"It was supposed to have been a Town Forum meeting, but everyone there was given a free vote, which shouldn't have been allowed.
"When we tried to put this point across and ask other questions, we were ignored, so there was no point in us being there," said Mr Barrett.
Town clerk Mr Deacon said he had written a formal letter of complaint to the Town Forum.
Local resident Sally Hawken, who led the successful Portas bid, and Mr Holmes, were this week in discussions with the television production company which wants to film in Liskeard.
Traders at the public meeting felt there was "no such thing as bad publicity" and the town would benefit from Mary Portas and her film crew coming to Liskeard.