THE failed Pershore Community Hall project which has cost the public purse over £54,000, has left the town “divided, angry and upset” according to attendees at Pershore Town Council’s meeting last week.

The monthly council meeting was an especially heated and emotive affair with calls for the chairman to apologise and the councillors responsible to resign after what some described as a “debacle” and a “railroading against the majority interests of the town.”

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Mayor Chris Parsons was asked by Cllr Charles Tucker to apologise for the “debacle,” with Cllr Tucker saying there had been a lack of accountability and contriteness by the council for trying to “railroad something that was clearly not wanted by the town. I have been surprised at the conduct of the council and continue to be so with its lack of openness and transparency. It was only six months ago that the full cost of the scheme was revealed to have gone up by 40 per cent and that information was only forthcoming because I decided to breach the confidentiality that the council had been deemed necessary to operate within.”

Cllr Parsons said he did not feel an apology was immediately required without some consideration first. “I can assure you that this council has no plan to progress the community hall on Defford Road,” he said.

Clerk Ann Dobbins said: “We had a full-blown referendum to find out what residents thought of the proposal. It was patently obvious that the majority did not want it in the proposed location. It was felt appropriate at the time to undertake the time and money for the consultations.”

Cllr Parsons further referred to Kevin Rose, an independent auditor who had been instructed by the council to undertake an independent investigation as to whether the council had acted unlawfully in pursuing the development. Mr Rose said: “I have been employed to investigate whether Pershore Town Council compiled with its legal requirements and I have found that all procedures have been followed correctly.”

Jackie Marler, who started the petition against the hall said she had become “a victim of a vicious backlash” against those who rejected the plans.

One man, sitting in the public gallery and who did not wish to be named, stood up and said: “This has been the most humiliating defeat the council has seen in many years. You have wasted time and money from the public purse by failing to adequately listen to the residents of Pershore and we can no longer trust you.”

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Michael Amies, former chairman of the Pershore Town Plan, called for residents to move on and become more “forgiving,” describing the controversial proposal as having been “so damaging to many relationships in the town.”

“It has all become too personal,” Mr Amies said. “We have lost sight of the actual issues.”

Deputy mayor, Cllr Julian Palfrey added: “This was once a happy place and this put an enormous strain on us all, lets forget our animosity and work together.” Concerns remain over the future of the field.