BLACKMINSTER’S RIFT WITH OFFENHAM – DESIRE TO SEEK UNITY WITH ANOTHER PARISH
That the people of Blackminster were desirous of breaking away from the parish of Offenham, of which at the moment they form a part, and joining in unity with the parish of Badsey was revealed at a meeting of Offenham Parish Council held at the School on Friday evening last week, when the matter came in for considerable discussion.
The Chairman (Mr E T Trenfield) outlined steps taken by the Parish Council during the war to ensure that Blackminster was represented on the Council and said now that they had Mr Bunting with them he thought they were going to get along all right. Mr Bunting was a very great help to them and he was sorry the whole affair had cropped up.
EVENTS HAD PROVED
Mr Bunting (Blackminster's representative) said he also had hoped that after 20 years any talk of a separation between Blackminster and the rest of the parish of Offenham would die a natural death, but events both before and after July 13 however had proved that Blackminster was still outside Offenham.
“I have,” continued Mr Bunting, “come to the conclusion that Blackminster should seek unity with some parish other than Offenham." In the circumstances, therefore, it might be best if he resigned as an Offenham Parish Councillor unless that Council as a whole did not oppose any separation move by Blackminster in which case his resignation might not be necessary until such separation actually took place.
Stating that there had been a certain amount of resentment in some quarters over the correspondence and publicity which the matter had received in the Press, Mr Bunting deplored that no mention had been made in Press reports of correspondence passing between a Blackminster resident and the "Children's Day" Organising Committee.
As a result he said the man in the street could only conclude that the matter was deliberately suppressed either by the Press themselves or on the instructions of the Committee. That only naturally led one to believe that Blackminster was still being ignored.
Continuing he said the question of the transfer of Blackminster from Offenham had been on the boards for some years and at the beginning of the war steps were taken to ascertain whether it was possible for Blackminster to become a separate parish but that was not found possible. Things then began to improve.
THE STEPS NECESSARY
Since July 13, however, contact had been made with the Clerk of the County Council to ascertain the steps necessary to secure Blackminster's transfer to another parish. Mr Bunting then read the reply from the County Council which revealed that one step would be the holding of a public local inquiry.
Giving reasons why the transfer should be effected he said the first was the incompatibility of interests and second was Blackminster’s geographical position with lack of public transport from east to west. The distance of Blackminster from Offenham Church and school was one reason why no Blackminster children attended the latter.
Then again there was street lighting at Badsey and South Littleton while Blackminster in the centre was left in the dark. Finally if the transfer came about be hoped that Offenham Parochial Church Council would consider the question of the ecclesiastical boundaries which would remain unaltered by any administrative change.
Mr E Stephens, referring to the meeting of the "Children's Day" Committee, said he raised the question of inserting a reply in the Press to the letter published from Mr Tutton (of Blackminster), but the chairman of the meeting opposed such matters being thrashed out in the newspapers. There was however a discussion on the matter and a personal reply was sent.
Mr R. Careless referred to the lack of interest of Blackminster people in Offenham meetings and Mr Bunting replied that until recently nobody in Blackminster knew when meetings were taking place.
A suggestion that Blackminster lacked notice boards was, however, quashed by the Clerk (Mr S Dolloway), reminding the Council that in April 1939, it was decided to ask the Littleton and Badsey growers for permission to erect one on their premises at Blackminster.
Regarding the suggestion that discussion over the correspondence was suppressed from the Press reports, Mr E A Cruttenden said no question of any suppression ever entered into the matter as the meeting of the "Children's Day" Committee was not a public one open to the Press and the report later issued to the newspapers concerned itself simply with the result of 'Children's Day."
Mr L V W Smith concurred as Chairman of the "Children's Day" Committee, saying that Committee had no desire to suppress anything from the Press and had nothing to hide. Mr Tutton chose to write to the Press and not to the "Children's Day" Committee, and it was only on his (Mr Smith) pressing the matter that a letter was sent to Mr Tutton at all.
TOO HUSH HUSH
Mr Bunting accepted the explanation given but reiterated his complaint that the matter had been treated very hush-hush.
During considerable further discussion, Mr Bunting said he did not expect that Parish Council to reach any decision that evening regarding its attitude in the matter, but if they were all against him he must resign from the Council.
The Chairman: “I do not feel that I can ask this Council to vote this evening.”
Mr Stephens: “Do Blackminster intend to go on immediately with a petition?”
Mr Bunting: “Yes.”
Mr Stephens: “If they go on I do not think Offenham can stop them.”
Mr Bunting said Blackminster’s transfer to another parish would only affect Offenham as regards special rates, because other rates were spread equally over the rural district.
It was then unanimously agreed by the meeting that Mr Bunting be asked to retain his seat on the Council for the time being.
Finally Mr L V W Smith proposed, Mr Cruttenden seconded, and the Council agreed that the Clerk write to the County Council and ascertain what would be the position of the remaining part of Offenham parish if Blackminster succeeded in securing transfer to another parish.