Councillor sparks outrage after letter to voters contains 'bare-faced lie'
A letter sent to voters around Stratton has sparked a furious row after some councillors claimed it contains a “bare-faced lie”.
Coun Matthew Vallender, a Conservative, suggested in a letter to residents that he persuaded Stratton St Margaret Parish Council not to raise the allowances they are entitled to for being part of the area’s authority, claiming Labour had wanted to increase it.
Coun Tim Page, who chaired the discussion, criticised this for being what he called a “malicious bare-faced lie”, saying both the clerk and the meeting minutes contradict that version of events.
He said: “This has to be called out. I’m furious, this is politically motivated.
“Matthew didn’t influence anyone and there was no discussion about raising councillor allowances.
“We were entitled to increase them, but every councillor said that it would be wrong to do so. The decision was unanimous, as it has been every other year this has come up.”
Coun Vallender’s letter to residents said: “I pushed for and was successful in calling for a freeze in councillor allowances, despite opposition from Labour parish councillors who wanted to increase it.”
Notes from the minutes of the full council meeting on November 30, 2022, read: “Members noted that parish councillor allowances have not risen for eight years.
“Members resolved to keep councillor allowances the same as present.”
Coun Page, who is a Labour member, said: "I worry that this damaging lie has reduced the chance of councillors in Stratton and Coleview being re-elected.
“Holders of public office should be truthful and their behaviour should be challenged."
Coun Vallender responded: “It is absolutely clear that some Labour parish councillors are embarrassed to have been caught red-handed seeking to hike their own personal allowances at a time local hardworking families are having to be careful with money.
"It is nonsense for confused Coun Tim Page to claim the minutes show otherwise - minutes only show the final resolution and not the discussion held. That is simply not true.
"At the meeting, Couns Ravi Venkatesh and Teresa Page both argued powerfully and passionately for a rise that they felt was long overdue.
"I felt strongly against the proposals and I am glad common sense ultimately prevailed in stopping the increase.
"Coun Tim Page cannot simply airbrush out his colleagues' actions, even if he rightly agreed with me."
In an agenda for an upcoming meeting, in which this dispute will be discussed, the clerk states: "No councillor spoke in favour of increasing councillor allowances."