Questions raised after row between rival lockdown volunteer groups

A screenshot from the Sheringham Town Council meeting held via Zoom on May 19. Image: STC

A screenshot from the Sheringham Town Council meeting held via Zoom on May 19. Image: STC - Credit: Archant

Questions over dealings of a community support group formed in response to the coronavirus lockdown are to be considered by Sheringham Town Council.

Sheringham town mayor Madeleine Ashcroft. Photo: Karen Bethell

Sheringham town mayor Madeleine Ashcroft. Photo: Karen Bethell - Credit: Archant

It follows a row which broke out between the independently-run Mutual Aid Sheringham (MASh) and town councillor Liz Withington, who founded ‘rival’ Sheringham Community Support (SCS).

At a council meeting conducted over Zoom on May 19, councillors heard from one of the MASh founders, Caz New, who asked about an incident on April 8.

Ms New said on that day: “We had phone calls from Lloyds Pharmacy saying they were no longer to be handing out prescriptions [for residents shielding] to MASh volunteers. This came as a surprise to us and we found there was a real risk of this leaving people without their medication.”

Ms New also asked the council for its views on the events of May 12, when it was claimed street volunteer Jane Garry - known as the “prescription queen” for her efforts in delivering medication for self-isolating people - had been replaced without warning.

Liz Withington. Picture: Submitted

Liz Withington. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Submitted

Ms New said she had sent a document to the council “setting out the history of MASh and some of the difficulties we’ve had in getting stuff done”.

Chairing the meeting, mayor Madeline Ashcroft said the council would consider the concerns and discuss them further at a later date.

Speaking more broadly about the Sheringham community’s response to the pandemic and lockdown, Mrs Ashcroft said: “There have been tensions but perhaps this was inevitable when you consider the size of the operation.

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“But let’s be positive and look forward to when we can have a massive street party at the end of the Covid problem.”

Also commenting on the row, councillor Roz Treadway said: “SCS has to express its sadness that it has not yet been able to sustain a good working relationship with MASh.

“We have been advised that we are unable to say more about this matter at present as it is the subject of police investigation but we must stress that no SCS member is under investigation.

“This is an important moment for our council - we are being asked to stand tall and show we will not be deflected by wrong behaviours in verbal or written form on any platform.”

Councillors also spoke about how Sheringham’s shops and footpaths could operate effectively with social distancing as the lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.