AN independent body has offered its support to Penketh Parish Council amid mounting tensions between members.

It comes after the parish council’s clerk resigned before their replacement also left the post.

The problems come amid ongoing tensions and disagreements between Labour and the independent councillors.

Cheshire Association of Local Councils (ChALC) provides professional support for member councils in all aspects of their work and, when necessary, can provide formal, legal advice on a wide range of council-related matters.

Chief officer Jackie Weaver says it would be essential to help the parish council understand and resolve any outstanding issues before ‘parachuting in’ another clerk.

She added: “ChALC has offered to assist and support Penketh Parish Council – initially it would be myself that would undertake this work – in identifying what the issues are and how best to approach them.

“We are then able to assist the council through the process of recruitment.

“These are very difficult times for parish and town councils as they try to get to grips with the coronavirus restrictions and the inability to meet face to face makes resolving issues even more difficult.

“However, it would be a sad loss to our communities if we did not do our very best to ensure that they get the support and guidance they need to go forward.”

Warrington Borough Council is also aware of the situation.

A spokesman said: “Parish councils are responsible for managing their own affairs, but the council is always on hand to offer support and guidance to any parish council that requires it.”

One of the matters causing issues relates to the closure of Penketh Pool, on Honiton Way, which is owned and run by the parish council.

Independent Cllr Geoff Fellows has said he believes the parish council could have opened it on July 25 when the Government lifted coronavirus restrictions.

Furthermore, he also been collecting signatures from residents to carry out a community governance review to ‘open up an investigation’ into the parish council.

During the recent parish council meeting, conducted remotely over Zoom, independent Cllr Andy Heaver – who quit Labour last year – asked what is being done to address the issue of not having a council clerk.

Meanwhile, he stated that he believes the temporary clerk had issues with matters including ‘lack of access to bank accounts, lack of details and lack of protocol that has been followed’ and ‘therefore walked away’.

Cllr Fellows said a lot of people will be ‘interested in what is going on at the pool’.

Cllr Linda Dirir, Labour, said: “Everybody wants that pool open.”

Cllr Fellows asked: “So what have we done since July 25?”

But Cllr Dirir said she has been fighting to keep it open for 25 years and ‘won’t stop now’.

Residents have also raised concerns about the situation at the parish council.

One says it is ‘turning toxic’ in Penketh, with another stating the parish council is in ‘disarray’.

The Warrington Guardian understands the parish council is working to resolve the issue of not having a council clerk.