“Humiliated” traffic campaigner hits out after no vote blow

STALWART traffic campaigner Royce Franklin felt “humiliated” after being denied a vote as chairman of his own committee.

Mr Franklin, who twice served as a Parish Councillor and became known as Saddleworth’s ‘Mr Transport’, quit his voluntary role describing the decision as “ a real kick in the teeth”.

Royce Franklin

He immediately resigned as chair of the Parish Council’s Traffic and Transport Committee, with Cllr John Hudson now taking over the position on a temporary basis.

Mr Franklin, 82, quit after the T and T’s heated July meeting which included a discussion on the possible installation of traffic lights at the Royal George crossroads in Greenfield (see page five).

A vote by councillors in favour of a motion to proceed with a signals plan was deadlocked at two-all with one abstention.

Mr Franklin, a driving force behind the formation of the T and T committee, was subsequently informed he couldn’t have a casting vote as he is no longer an elected Parish or Borough councillor.

The impasse was eventually broken when Cllr Jamie Curley switched from abstaining to vote for the introduction of lights.

The committee is also served by members of Saddleworth’s community associations who were also told they couldn’t vote due to standing order rules.

The move has now been criticised by other local councillors, including Cllr Barbara Beeley, who called it “out of order”.

She added: “When these sub groups and sub committees were set up, we actively encouraged community reps or people with expertise to join them and everyone was allowed to vote.

“The whole idea was to get the community involved to feel as though they were making a difference.

“If you say to community reps ‘no you can’t vote about this,’ then they will vote with their feet and will go away.

“We are supposed to live in a democracy. Having community reps is one way of ensuring democracy is as wide as possible.”

In a strongly worded resignation letter Mr Franklin, a former policeman and senior probation officer, accused the Parish Council of being “dysfunctional and in need of an appraisal of how it can reform itself to serve the residents of Saddleworth better”.

He continued: “I am not arrogant enough to believe my resignation will make an iota of difference in the way the Council performs. Some may say I am naïve perhaps.

“I may accept that charge but we are ALL supposed to work together for the good of our excellent community.

“We have talked previously – admittedly rather superficially – about the attitude of the Parish Council to traffic issues.

“The Council could influence issues a great deal more but they chose to limit their say on this topic when they stopped my attendance at the monthly meetings you hold.

“I have to say when I did come I always felt cap in hand for time and you could not wait to get on with the ‘real’ business.”

“The second and in some respects, more importantly, it is the politicising of the agenda by certain members of the group.

“Some elected certainly see the group as an instrument for making political points.”

He subsequently told the Independent: “I was taken totally aback when told I couldn’t vote. Quite honestly, I was humiliated.

“In terms of getting involved in things they should be, they (SPC) don’t seem to be able to have the gumption to decide one way or another.

“It doesn’t really know what role it has got and that’s the problem.

“They are close to the community and should be more sensitive than someone else in an ivory tower somewhere which affects the Saddleworth area.”

Clashing with Mr Franklin at the T and T committee, Cllr Neil Allsopp told Saddleworth and Lees’ July District Partnership meeting: “I am afraid to say, and I wish he was here because I would say it to his face, Royce does have this tendency lately to throw his toys out of the pram.

“He has done it on a number of occasions with the clerk and previous chair of the Parish Council where he thought he should have been speaking and doing things and been told he shouldn’t and can’t because he is not an elected representative.”

However, SPV voted to send him a personal letter of thanks for his work, with chair Cllr Rob Knotts adding: “Royce served us very ably for many years.

“He did a lot of work for us and spent many hours researching and meeting with rail and bus people. And I would thank him for that.”

Cllr Brian Lord concluded: “We owe him a massive debt of thanks. He has been brilliant at what he does.”

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