Debden and Wimbish councillor called opposition in village hall drama “rent-a-mob”

Children in Debden staged a protest over delays to plans to build a new village hall

Children in Debden staged a protest over delays to plans to build a new village hall - Credit: Archant

A district councillor has come under fire for comments she made about an on-going village hall row in a confidential email which was sent to the opposition by mistake.

Councillor Tina Knight, who represents Debden and Wimbish, said she is standing by her comments in which she labelled an opposing group to a project for a new village hall in Debden as a “rent-a-mob”.

In the email, which was sent to a resident, Councillor Knight also refers to having “someone to put their name to a letter of support” for a plan to build a new hall on the existing site.

The row over the future of Debden Village Hall centres on two plans for the building.

The Debden Recreation Ground Trust, which owns the land, wants a new hall on the old site, keeping the car park and recreation ground as it is.

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However, the Debden New Village Hall Group and the Village Hall Trust, which own the 100-year-old hall, want to use a piece of the car park at the site to build a multi-purpose facility for weddings and other functions – a move opposed by the recreation ground trust.

Delays caused by the row mean the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the largest single contributor to the project, is ready to pull funding for the scheme.

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In the email, Councillor Knight who backs the recreation ground trust, said: “There will be an awful lot of rent-a-mob putting letters in. I was serious in saying I had someone to put their name to a letter of support for what you are doing, they just haven’t the time or ability to write anything.

“So if you want me to put a letter in, I can get it sent.”

Nicola McCahill, the unintended recipient of the email and who supports the village hall group’s proposal, said: “It is disappointing elected councillors are so against it.”

Councillor Knight said: “I stand by the rent-a-mob comments. The whole thing has become very unpleasant with verbal abuse directed at parish councillors, even though it isn’t a parish council issue.

“I am more than happy for people to have a different opinion on an issue but it has to be civilised.

“They [village hall group] just do not seem to understand the trustees of the Recreation Ground Trust have a duty to do what is best for the charity.”

On comments about having someone write a letter in support of the Recreation Ground Trust’s plan, she said: “I was approached by a gentleman unable to write anything at this time, and was happy for something to be written pending his approval.”

A meeting took place last night (Wednesday, January 11) with an alternative proposal being presented to residents.

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