Just 65 people vote in referendum on town council's future

Attleborough town hall. Picture: Archant

Just 65 people voted in a parish poll surrounding the future of Attleborough Town Council - Credit: Archant

Less than 1pc of a town's population voted in a referendum which asked whether its entire council should resign. 

Just 65 people took part in a parish poll surrounding the future of Attleborough Town Council (ATC) last week. 

The vote was demanded almost 18 months ago at a parish meeting, during which residents voiced their displeasure at ongoing dysfunction within the council.

A parish meeting to discuss the future of Attleborough Town Council was held at Connaught Hall. Pict

Around 200 people demanded a parish poll surrounding Attleborough Town Council in March 2020 - Credit: Archant

It had, at the time, become embroiled in a heated saga which saw two members - Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer - accused of "harassment, bullying and intimidation".

They have since been paid thousands of pounds in damages after a report written by the mayor, Phil Leslie, concluded the claims had been part of a "malicious campaign". 

And, while ATC has undergone a significant overhaul in recent months, locals were given the chance to have their say in the town-wide vote - delayed by a year due to coronavirus

But the parish poll garnered a paltry turnout of just 0.69pc, as 65 people responded to the question "should all serving town councillors of Attleborough Town Council immediately resign to allow for new elections?".

Police were called to a meeting at Attleborough Town Council. Photo: Bethany Wales

Police were called to an Attleborough Town Council meeting in early 2020 after a row concerning bullying allegations erupted - Credit: Archant

The vast majority (58) answered 'yes'. 

Voters were also asked "should there be an investigation into whether or not Attleborough Town Council is following its rules and procedures?", to which 48 said 'yes'. 

The town has an electorate of 9,361.

But Mr Leslie believed the poor turnout was proof of ATC having entered a new era, but pledged to listen to the public's concerns. 

Mayor of Attleborough Philip Leslie at the official opening of the new Myhills store.

Phil Leslie, Attleborough mayor and town council chairman - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

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"It is a demonstration of how things have moved on," he said. "Had it happened in the period we expected, the turnout would have been significantly higher.

"Since then, so much has changed within the town council and the way it operates.

"However, we do listen and we'll be putting the town's interests at the heart of any decisions we make."

Breckland councillor Rhodri Oliver, who chaired the parish meeting last March, admitted the level of public participation had been "disappointing". 

Rhodri Oliver, Breckland councillor for Attleborough

Rhodri Oliver, Breckland councillor for Attleborough - Credit: Breckland Council/Mark Bullimore Photography

He added: "Clearly there were extenuating circumstances because the questions were decided 18 months earlier, so the urgency was no longer there.

"Had the poll been held a year ago, it might have been a way out of a multi-month bloodbath."