Four councillors have resigned after plans for a referendum on private policing for Selston ended in a furore.
Selston Parish Independents Robert Sears Piccavey and Gail Turner confirmed they had resigned along with councillors Arnie Hankin and Michael Biggs.
Councillor Robert Sears Piccavey chairman of Selston Parish Council said all four had resigned after they learned threats had been made to them.
In a statement Coun Sears Piccavey wrote: “As Chairman of Selston Parish Council I wish to inform your readers that I and some other councillors have resigned from Selston Parish Council.
“We have attempted to get help from the Police for residents concerned about continuous drug taking problems and serious anti-social behaviour.
“The result of wanting to do something positive through the parish council has resulted in a very nasty, negative and threatening campaign by some of the council and the Black Shirt Brigade.
“We want to distance ourselves from this behaviour.
“We will still work for the residents of Underwood, Jacksdale and Selston but through other channels, such as Ashfield District and Nottinghamshire County Council.”
Coun Turner said she also had resigned as a parish councillor after being subject to ‘lies and threats against her family’.
She said: “I handed in my resignation because the behaviour of certain people has been disgusting.
“Threats have been made against my family, we have had threats to damage vehicles and people have told huge lies about us.”
She said the police had been informed.
The Selston Parish Independents came up with the idea of a referendum in the parish after dissatisfaction about policing in the area.
But the idea caused a huge controversy and the group was accused of frightening residents and blackening the name of the area following the subsequent media interest in the story.
Last week Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping addressed a meeting of the council where some residents were vocal in their opposition to the referendum plan.
The Black Shirt Brigade is understood to refer to a group of councillors and residents who set up the #SelstonTogether Facebook group in opposition to the referendum.
Coun Turner added: “We have acted for people who came to us crying after being attacked in the street. The only thing we have done is to ask people what they want by proposing a referendum. We have not said you will have one thing or the other.”
She said statements had been put on social media accusing members of the Selston Parish independents group of having shares in a security company, which she dismissed as lies.
Coun Sears Piccavey said the issue of the referendum was now ‘entirely up to the council’.
A meeting of Selston Parish Council will be held on January 24.
He said the clerk of the council had informed Ashfield District Council of the four vacant positions.
Coun Sears Piccavey added: “These will be advertised for 14 days and i someone puts themselves up there will be a by election. Otherwise the council can co-opt members or carry on with 17 members rather than 21.”
Selston Parish Councillor Dawn Justice who opposed the referendum said:
“I was sorry to hear about the resignations of several councillors over the private security row. Of the resigning councillors, Gail Turner, in particular, has worked tirelessly for the community of Selston over many years. “Whilst I have been aware of the strong feelings against private security within our community I was both surprised and deeply saddened to read that Gail may have felt threatened and intimidated. I sincerely hope that the she and Robert Sears-Piccavey have made full reports of the incidents to the police.
“The issue of private security sparked a debate in which these Councillors were repeatedly asked questions and no answers were provided, frustrations in the community have been running very high.
“Residents have been particularly upset by the proposed hike in council tax, which this private security firm would have caused. At the Finance Committee meeting on 16 January, as acting Chair, I proposed that there be no rise in the Parish Precept for the financial year 2017/2018. This proposal will go before the full council meeting on 24 January, and I see no reason why it should not be adopted.”
A statement posted on the #SelstonTogether this morning said:
“Selston together is a group of residents drawn from the Selston Parish area who came together following the proposals for private security by the Selston Parish Independents. The information provided to the community was limited and didn’t provide the full picture in relation to crime figures.
“Selston together has worked hard to establish facts and present these to the whole community allowing everyone to make an informed decision.
“Together with the community we are seeking alternatives to improve the community and it’s services whilst joining together for charity events.
“Selston togethers objective is to create a united and positive future for all.”