From Rob Kinchington, Ryde:

The Localism Act 2011 has removed much of the red tape and bureaucracy of local government, giving local authorities greater freedom to control their own business.

The unfortunate side effect has been to allow some councillors to abuse the trust the public places in them. This is why Bembridge Parish Council (BPC) is now dysfunctional.

At the last public meeting, the public was told it could not ask any questions relating to the sale of a building, which is owned by the parish, and which the councillors are meant to be the stewards of.

The reason for this ‘censorship’ is it is now the subject of legal moves against the council, because it has messed up the sale process by accepting a low offer and rejecting a much higher one, without consulting the owners — the villagers.

BPC has also broken a promise it has repeatedly made over the last year or so that if the building is sold the tenants would remain.

They have done this, by strange coincidence, at exactly the same time as they have accepted a purchase offer from a local builder, who would clearly benefit financially from having a tenant-free first floor office. The much higher offer was made by, you guessed it, the tenant they plan to throw out.

Justifiably, everyone in the village is deeply suspicious of the council’s motives.

If the council persists in this course of action, the legal moves will take place, so there is a very serious risk of a huge bill facing the parishioners.