Village housing in disarray after all the trustees quit
- Credit: Little Thetford CLT
The entire board of a community land trust quit after claims of threats, abuse and following police being called to a meeting.
In an ‘open letter to Little Thetford village residents” the board – made up of mainly parish councillors – say they have resigned en masse.
The statement says Little Thetford Community Land Trust followed the ambitions of others in trying meet the need for “attainable homes” for local people.
"However, when the CLT trustees attempted to inform the residents of Little Thetford of the detail and plans to achieve this, the events were overtaken by a small group,” says the statement.
It alleges “some of whom intimidated and harassed vulnerable people in the community personally and on social media both in the lead up to and during the events.
“Threats were made to individuals, abuse levelled at attendees and trustees some of which unfortunately had racial overtones, ending in the police being called.
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“The trustees were asked by the police to confirm that the hall could be managed safely. “
The statement says that “given the earlier behaviour of a small group it was decided that safety could not be guaranteed and further meetings were cancelled.
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“The trustees gave considerable thought to the selection of the Holt Fen site, going through a rigorous process using the information made available to them”.
The statement acknowledges that the choice of site was going to be controversial.
It said when residents purchased their houses in Palisade Court and the surrounding streets “it was well known that building was extremely likely to happen in the future”.
Trustees had concerns on the location, financial viability and building strategy of the other site when the selection was made.
The statement says that an aborted meeting a resident in raised a question about whether the land located at the rear of Dewsbury Gardens can be developed.
Residents had a clause in their conveyancing documents which states that the land will not be developed for several years.
“This will require more action before it can be confirmed,” says the statement.
It continues: “Some of you may feel that the members have lost the trust in the trustees, but that also works in the other direction."
It says the trustees have lost trust in some of the current membership (not the community) to act in accordance with the rules and codes of conduct.
“None of the current trustees are willing to invest further time in this project given some of the current membership have shown how they intend to cause harm or reputational damage to members of our community,” says the statement.
“The members are therefore invited to advertise and hold a special meeting in accordance with the rules to appoint new trustees.
“The outgoing trustees have invested considerable time and effort in bringing the CLT forward as there was a genuine belief that this would provide attainable homes, community benefits and act as a deterrent to speculative builders.
“Unfortunately, there are no winners in the current situation and the trustees believe that for there to be any chance of putting this back on track it would be through a new board of trustees dedicated to put in the necessary time and effort over the coming years.”
One villager told me: “Many in Little Thetford are increasingly alarmed at the lack of communication and accountability of the LTCLT.
“Almost zero communication and cancelled meetings. They won’t answer questions formally or publicly to groups, and seem to prefer a divide and conquer approach which is bizarre to those of us expecting a transparent, community-based approach”.
The villager added: “We’re being told by some that recording public CLT meetings is to be avoided due to GDPR concerns. That doesn’t sound right to me.”
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