Shenstone candidates criticise Parish Council ahead of by-election

Elizabeth Brown and Gary Cantelo

Elizabeth Brown and Gary Cantelo

A by-election for a parish council seat near Lichfield has taken an unusual twist after the opposing candidates joined forces to criticise the council they want to join.

Shenstone Parish Council, which covers Stonnall, Little Aston and Shenstone Village, was due to have existing councillors co-opt a local person of their choice to fill the vacancy but because enough villagers petitioned for an actual election a ballot was arranged for July 23.

But a legal Public Notice issued by the parish council to homes in the village, formally disassociating itself from and withdrawing funding for a volunteer group which manages the village playing fields on behalf of residents has sparked controversy.

It follows months of bitter clashes that many thought were now in the past after talks between the council and the community group.

And now candidates Elizabeth Brown and Gary Cantelo have agreed to join forces because they are “outraged” by the council’s actions.

In a leaflet issued by the duo, they claim the parish council has “lost touch” with the views of local people and have acted in a “heavy handed and aggresive way against the local community group”.

Mrs Brown who has lived in village for 18years admitted she was frustrated by what the council’s stance – saying that the move had turned the election into a “playing fields issue” and overshadowed her other concerns. She explained:

“I’m standing in this election because I believe the parish council should be doing more to support local efforts to improve road safety by cutting speeding traffic and tackling the growing problems of HGV’s in the village.

“Whilst many will say the Public Notice sent out by the council might help my campaign I also know that Gary and the other residents on the playing fields group are dong their best to improve facilities for local people, particularly younger ones. It means that we both now agree it’s time to question whether all the councillors representing Shenstone village who sanctioned this action should stand down.”

The other candidate Gary Cantelo, is also now keen to work with his ‘opposition’ election candidate. He said:

“Many people we have talked to are fed up. Elizabeth and I have agreed to work together because we want what’s right for the village and I support the issues that she wants to highlight just as she supports the work we are doing.

“We’ve realised since the Public Notice was sent out that we are finding strong local support for both mine and Elizabeth’s main causes. We’ve tried to see if either of us can step down to avoid the need for an election, but we are told it’s too late. So it will take place on Thursday and I hope people will turn out and vote for either of us because we are now going to work for overall change on the parish council, at least for Shenstone Village.”

Both candidates have pledged to jointly start a petition after Thursday calling for a full Parish Council election for all six of the Shenstone Ward positions and also plan to lobby for a referendum on whether Shenstone Village should have its own parish council. meaning a split from Stonnall and Little Aston.

Shenstone Parish Council has been unavailable for comment.

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