Watch committee resigns en-masse as Good Friendships are strained over hurt feelings (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Watch committee resigns en-masse as Good Friendships are strained over hurt feelings
A NEIGHBOURHOOD Watch committee has resigned en-masse after its chairman quit - saying he was disrespected during the launch of a befriending scheme.
Jim Allen has overseen a rejuvenation of the Darlington association since taking over as chairman two years ago.
Membership more than doubled and Mr Allen won several awards for his efforts.
His tenure ended on something of a sour note, following the launch of the Good Friends scheme in October.
A partnership project between different organisations, Good Friends aims to provide practical help and companionship for elderly people in the borough.
It hopes to sign up 1,000 volunteers in its first year and has about 250 people on its books.
The model for Good Friends was based on an idea put forward by Mr Allen and Neighbourhood Watch, in conjunction with eVOLution, which supports the voluntary sector in Darlington.
Organisations involved in Good Friends include project leaders Age UK, Durham Police, Neighbourhood Watch and Darlington Partnership, which brings together the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Mr Allen, who resigned as chairman of his association in October citing personal reasons, was aggrieved after an administrative error meant he was not invited to the Good Friends launch event until the last minute.
In a letter to partnership chairman Alasdair MacConachie, Mr Allen said he was ‘made to feel like an alien’ at the event and felt that he and the association had been treated with ‘gross disrespect’.
Other members of the association committee last week resigned en-masse in support of Mr Allen. A new committee will be elected at an extraordinary meeting this week.
Mr Allen said: “I am a man of principles and I felt the way I and the association were treated was a kick in the teeth.
“I am not getting at all of the Partnership, but I do not think they had any concept of what the association had achieved and what we have done for the borough.
“It was not until after I resigned that they realised.”
Mr Allen stressed that he enjoyed a good relationship with Darlington police during his time as Neighbourhood Watch chairman.
Darlington Partnership director Seth Pearson acknowledged that the situation could have been ‘managed more effectively’.
The Partnership has made repeated efforts to persuade Mr Allen to reconsider his resignation.
Mr Pearson added: “There was absolutely no intention whatsoever to slight Jim and people have gone to extraordinary lengths to assure him of that.
“Neighbourhood Watch is, and has always been, an integral part of Good Friends.”
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