Genteel village torn apart by infighting as parish councillors resign amid tensions

A view of the dunes and fishermen's huts at Winterton on Sea It is one of East Norfolk’s most popular and genteel coastal villages, boasting a clutch of thatched cottages and tranquil views over rolling sand dunes.But the picturesque hamlet of Winterton-on-Sea has been rocked by allegations of bitter infighting amongst members of the local council, resulting in warnings that the village is being “torn apart,” causing “stress, hurt and anger.”The conflict has already prompted three resignations from the parish council. They, in turn, follow the resignation of the entire village hall committee.Tensions have been exacerbated by the now former council chairman’s repeated refusals to apologise to a member of the public after apparently suggesting she could be solely responsible for a rise in council tax.Her alleged crime was to organise – and enthusiastically promote – a garage sale to rival that of the annual event run by the council.The audacious move by villager Sarah Neve, 49, a local school support worker, caused fury in some quarters. Catherine Moore, the parish clerk, was forced to issue a statement clarifying that Ms Neve would not be personally responsible for any council tax increase.The row followed a “village hall fiasco” which saw the entire village hall committee resign en masse, following “some tensions” with the council .Sources suggested they had been made to feel like “complete idiots” amid accusations they had “not been doing things properly.”As such, the council  took charge of the hall management and promptly hiked the hourly hire rates, immediately causing several local groups to stop using the facility altogether. A view of the dunes and fishermen’s huts at Winterton on SeaCredit:Jon Gibbs/Alamy Stock Photo On discovering that she had organised such an event, Eric Lund, then chair of the parish council, released a statement announcing that the “official” village garage sale, scheduled for later this month, had been cancelled.It noted that the rival sale had attracted strong support, not least because of Ms Neve’s “promotional efforts”, and as such, the official sale had become “unviable”. Winterton is a pretty Norfolk village on the coast Winterton is a pretty Norfolk village on the coastCredit:Neil McAllister/Alamy Stock Photo It went on: “Unfortunately, the sale generates significant funds towards the upkeep of the hall and the committee will have to make up the shortfall by other means, possibly a few pence on the council tax”.The statement prompted an angry backlash amongst some members of the community, many of whom questioned why there could not be two such sales.Sue Daglish, said it was a “bit childish” to threaten residents with an increase in council tax while Ross Birkett suggested it was “inappropriate” to imply that a future increase may be “specifically due to the actions of a local resident.The statement prompted such acrimony that the notice was covered up at the local Post Office by an unidentified third party. At last week’s meeting it was announced, amid reports of an “excellent” fete, that Mr Lund as well as two other councillors had resigned.Ms Neve told The Telegraph: “I’m massively disappointed with what has happened. It’s very sad, petty and churlish.”Mr Lund was not available for comment. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.