Axed role is vital to Ashfield’s progress

I am bitterly disappointed and outraged by the action of Hucknall Councillor Chris Baron, the current Leader of Ashfield District Council, to abolish one of the most important posts at the council, that of Heritage & Tourism.

Friday, 14th March 2014, 9:35 am
Ashfield District Council Offices

Dennis Hill has held this post for many years and his knowledge of the district’s heritage and people, his expertise when liaising with conservationists, archaeologists, geologists, historians and the like with whom he often works, also his ability to gain access to the intricate system of obtaining Heritage Lottery Grants for local groups and organise major public heritage events cannot be equalled by anyone else at the council.

It is a specialist field of work that is vital to the future progress of the Ashfield district. Over the years Denis has created a new sense of pride and a feeling of worth in the people of Ashfield.

All this will diminish when his post is terminated at the end of April. Chris Baron’s idea of getting rid of the Heritage & Tourism post, then taking three or four people from their own jobs to answer queries appertaining to heritage-related matters from the public seems nonsensical to me.

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These selected officers may be very good at their own jobs but are not experts in wide-ranging heritage subjects as Denis Hill is, and the constant interruptions to their own work would mean a loss in time both to their concentration and output.

A good idea would be to switch some of the £80,000 taxpayers’ money used to fund the council’s staff canteen to the Heritage & Tourism post then we could keep Denis Hill.

Council officers could then, instead of just wringing their hands in woe at the budget deficit, bring their own sandwiches and a flask of tea like many other workers in other industries have always had to do. This action might indicated to the public that the Council was trying it’s best to alleviate the dire situation it was in. Or would it be a step too far for them to bear?

It is reported that the Council Leader has just had his office refurbished, the council car-park resurfaced, a plasma screen TV installed, etc.

This sounds like a case of ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I say’. Denis is currently in the midst of leading local groups into several new projects in the Ashfield area that will be interesting and exiting for everyone. Two of these projects in particular could ultimately result in national and international income from tourists. The continuation of such important work must not be halted. The groundswell of fury and exasperation at these latest cuts by the council has reached unprecedented levels and it is shameful that Chris Baron would not listen to good advice, either from his colleagues or anybody else, that would have improved the situation in the first place.

There is no doubt that the public’s wrath will be reflected in forthcoming local council elections.

Mrs J. Peters

Stanton Hill

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