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Is democracy dead?


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Was it something I said?


Apparently Ledbury Town Council's Mayor Bob Barnes couldn't bear that I was going to speak publicly about:


a. A defamatory email he'd circulated about me concerning a fictitious incident cooked up to discredit me

b. Because I'd unearthed the fact that all rules of financial probity had been discarded in the payment of £7 grand to an external consultant

c. Which led on to misleading information being given to the internal auditor claiming the £7k had been authorised at a committee meeting when in fact it had never been mentioned 


My offence at Ledbury Town Council on Thursday 16 April, in attempting to read out my resignation statement which cited the above as reasons, was not to sit down when the Mayor interrupted me about one minute into my speech. I refused to be silenced, despite the unseemly baying and screeching from various town councillors, including the exceptionally unpleasant Jayne Roberts, and read out my statement. Being a singer, I have a loud voice and was happy to speak over them all and carry on until I was finished. 


The vote to have me removed for 'disorderly conduct' was carried and the police were called. There followed a lull of 45 minutes in the adjournment during which something of party atmosphere developed. Someone called out for music, 'so we can have a dance'. There was lots of merry networking. 


When it became clear that the cops were never going to arrive, Barnes suspended the meeting until a later date.


You can watch the incident in all its painful, pitiful, pantomime awfulness here: https://youtu.be/P4Kz4DNKguk


The main point to make is that LTC objected to my breaking the rules of conduct in meetings and so wanted me to be arrested. In fact, it was Barnes who first broke its rules by interrupting a member of the public without any grounds to do so. Was it 'offensive or improper' to mention the bald facts of his behaviour (together with a town council clerical officer) in widely circulating a malicious piece of gossip about me? Or the fact that a great wad of money had been waved through for payment without ever having been authorised by fellow councillors? Or that the auditor had been given misleading information?


I applaud the Town Council's high standards in upholding its rules and traditions in the pomp and convention of its meetings. It is just a pity that the Council doesn't apply those same standards to the way it handles large sums of money, consultant contracts, to the way it behaves fairly and honestly in its dealings, and to the manner in which it treats its elected councillors.


ps Yes I was elected at a by-election, one of only a handful of councillors who have been. Mr Bob Barnes as he was then, it is worth remembering was co-opted after the last uncontested election in 2011, who didn't even have the confidence apparently to put his name forward as a candidate, but waited until he could be shoe-horned in by his mates on the council.  

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The garbled story of the standards complaint against me is explained in one of my blogs. http://www.richhadley.net/blog/politicians-have-feelings-too


This was the statement I issued to the Ledbury Reporter on Thursday 16 April:


The monitoring officer of Herefordshire has upheld a complaint brought by Ledbury Deputy Mayor Rob Yeoman that I did not treat him with due respect and courtesy. I have already publicly apologised to him and am happy to do so again.


In parallel, the officer Mr Bill Norman, advised Mr Yeoman that ‘he continues to clarify his role whenever future discussion on any matter take place and to ensure that he is absent from any formal decisions when appropriate’. He states that: ‘it may be difficult for others to determine whether Cllr Yeoman’s actions are taken as a councillor or as an individual’.


The question has arisen because of the Deputy Mayor’s having not fully declared his interests, during successive Ledbury Town Council committee meetings which concerned policy development for housing and recreation.  I pointed out this fact in a few short comments on social media in order that local residents might better understand Mr Yeoman’s conduct.


As a matter of record he appeared as the developer’s agent (for the Silverwood Partnership) at Herefordshire Council’s Planning Committee hearing on 11 February when a controversial planning application was being determined into whether the town’s cricket pitch should be redeveloped for housing.


This particular ‘pecuniary (financial) interest’ had never been revealed to committee colleagues or to ward councillors but only came to light at the Planning Committee hearing of Herefordshire Council on 11 February.


I believe Mr Yeoman may well feel that he has acted within the letter of the law; that is not for me to decide, but it is only fair to expect that he provides a clear and full statement of his interests to local residents. There is also clearly some doubt as to whether he kept town council and community colleagues fully updated at all the appropriate moments on whose behalf he was acting, hence Mr Norman’s comments quoted above.

The Standards Panel and monitoring officer criticised me for the style I used which brought these matters to public attention, but the substance of what I said is not called into question.

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And this, for anyone not crippled with boredom by all this stupidity, is what I put on the Hereford Times and Ledbury Reporter web forums:


If you value conformity and subservience above free speech and transparency, then my behaviour [at the Council meeting] was out of order.

But if you accept that there are moments when it is necessary to break the rules, when all other avenues have been exhausted, in order to tell the truth, then what I did was justified. 

Anyway, it was not such a great crime, reading out a resignation statement, as is my right, and refusing to be bullied into submission by a ridiculous bunch of buffoons who can't bear to be challenged.

There were no procedural grounds whatsoever for the Mayor to silence a member of the public making a contribution at the start of the meeting. It was an outrageous infringement of the rules of conduct and I will be making a complaint to this effect. I was interrupted about a minute into my statement. I had not exceeded the time limit.

What the Mayor sought to do was to prevent my referring to the matter of the defamatory and unsubstantiated email that he had circulated about me to all town councillors some weeks back. This was a clear attempt at smearing my reputation, political dirty tricks of the worst kind. The voters of Ledbury deserve to know the calibre of the people who are seeking their votes on 7 May (which doesn't include me).

It was a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time to suspend and then adjourn the meeting. Had I been allowed me to make my statement in the normal manner, there would have been no problem to get on with the rest of the business afterwards. I had no intention once I had made my short statement of making any further contribution. What did he expect me to do? He exceeded his powers and acted outside of standing orders. I was also shocked by the barracking and abuse that I was subject to, as well as the menacing behaviour, captured on video, of Cllrs Clive Jupp and Alan Conway which nearly ended up in a fracas. 

Also, what a complete waste of Police time expecting them to come out to remove an ex-councillor who simply wanted to read out their resignation statement. They can’t bear to hear the truth.

This incident is illustrative of the deep vein of anti-democratic, intolerant and dictatorial behaviour of entrenched members of Ledbury Town Council who are unable to let anyone give an alternative view or dissent from their petty and vindictive antics. Bob Barnes’ behaviour, as well as others on Thursday evening was undignified and ugly.

The choice is now clear for voters on 7 May: vote for the old faces and have Ledbury hobbled by incompetence, or go for a fresh team and have us make a clean start.

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Hi Rich, you have done yourself proud. I'm so pleased you took up my invite to join this thread.


Highlighting all of the murky goings on,  needs doing. A job not many are prepared to do!


I take my hat off to you Sir!


I hope the majority of Ledbury residents realise what a service you have done them, in bringing this to the surface.


For far too long, too many folks have sat back and said nothing. Never questioning what is going on within their local councils, whether that be parish, town, city or shire.


Some of us have woken up. Some of us have begun to question, criticise...... to be met by a wall of bluff and balderdash.


The only way to move forward, is to vote them out come May 7th.


Maybe then, we can truly see democracy in action......

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Mr Hadley, your statement below, does not fall on deaf ears on this site.


"But if you accept that there are moments when it is necessary to break the rules, when all other avenues have been exhausted, in order to tell the truth, then what I did was justified."


You only have to browse through the different topics to know that you are not the only one raising concerns publically because the establishment has tried to silence you. I would now suggest you grow a very thick skin and prepare yourself for the character assassination that will follow shortly. Trust me you won't recognise yourself when they've finished!


My warmest regards and well done!

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Flamboyant and dippyhippy, thank you for support which is very much appreciated. 


The character assassination has already begun. Barnes' email sent round to all fellow councillors, without a shred of evidence to back it up, said that 'this behaviour is totally unacceptable and unbecoming of a town councillor & and a total disregard for the position you hold... Your actions have brought the entire council into disrepute... I find this report most disturbing and unwelcome, which will leave a stain on my tenure as Mayor.'  For something that never happened, strong words eh?


To be honest when you are completely trashed in public like this, there's not a great deal more they can say, short of calling me a criminal. 


Roll on May 7! 

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He's got bloody glasses on. I need one without glasses. That said, I've taken an instant dislike to that right ear. Where's its bloody lobe. That's an odd looking right ear. Mind, that's no reason to dislike the man. I'll not have it said that I'll judge a man by his rather odd looking right ear. Let's have a proper picture that'll allow us all the ability to see for ourselves why this Councillor was rude to our Richard.

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