Following an outcry from Shenley residents over the sale of Shenley Primary School land, senior Labour councillors from both County and Borough Councils called for an inquiry into its sale to two Tory councillors.
In a joint statement, Cllr Jeremy Newmark, Leader, Hertsmere Borough Labour Group and Cllr Judi Billing, Labour Education Spokesperson, Hertfordshire County Council said: “Many local residents have been in touch with us and our fellow Labour Councillors about the loss of land previously used by Shenley Primary School.”
“These residents have raised numerous allegations against Shenley Parish Council Chair, Cllr Susman and his wife, Cllr Natalie Susman who is an elected member of both Shenley Parish Council and Hertsmere Borough Council. We are also aware of complaints against the County, Borough and Parish Councils.”
“There are a wide-ranging set of issues involved, including possible conflicts of interest, the Nolan Principles, the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, the rights of councillors to personal lives and the obligation of Hertfordshire County Council to act in the best interests of local people (including pupils at schools under its own aegis). Broader issues of accountability and transparency in local government are also important concerns.”
“We are pleased that the Susmans have released a full statement that we have studied in detail. Hertfordshire County Council have also released a statement that raises more questions than it answers. It is not in the public interest, particularly at the present time, to allow this matter to become a toxic local issue, fuelled by statements, counter statements and speculation on social media. Local people deserve clarity, facts and assurances from their local authorities. These must be coupled with action, if and when it is established that mistakes were made. That is why we calling for the Monitoring Officers of Hertfordshire County Council, Hertsmere Borough Council and Shenley Parish Council to establish a joint independent inquiry into these matters. This inquiry should publish a report and recommendations.”
“In the meantime, we are shocked and saddened to hear reports of threats, intimidation and abuse against the Susmans. This behaviour is not acceptable. Our area has strong and thriving democratic structures and processes. Local people have a right to look to their local authorities to resolve these matters and in turn those authorities must now act to do just that.”