TWO petitions – one in support of a troubled Cumbrian council and the other calling for it to be dissolved – are set to be considered together in a private meeting.

The borough authority has agreed this week to help Parton Parish Council find a way forward in the hope of bringing together a divided community.

An extraordinary general meeting of Copeland Council held on Monday agreed that “mediation” will be undertaken by its Standards and Ethics Committee to help both sides reach agreement.

The borough authority is powerless to scrap Parton Parish Council but is duty-bound as the “lead authority” to help resolve the community crisis, it emerged.

Coun Brian O’Kane said the cost of dealing with the problems at Parton Parish Council must be “phenomenal”, raising concerns over the money and officer time involved.

Coun David Moore, who serves on the executive, confirmed that the cost to the borough council was indeed “huge” but added that that the authority had a responsibility to help.

Copeland confirmed that it has now received a counter-petition in support of Parton Parish Council. This follows an earlier community petition calling for the parish council to be dissolved amid concerns over the way it is being run.

The counter-petition reads: “We fully support the present group of councillors and continue to do so and make Parton village great again.

“This is a petition to support the need for the parish council to remain, and for Parton’s voice to be heard through democracy.”

However, the borough council has received reports of “growing public unrest” and “disharmony” within the village organisation, with meetings often descending into chaos.

Officers have also ruled that several resignations and the dismissal of the clerk have resulted in the parish council not having the adequate and lawful banking arrangements to pay creditors – among them Copeland Council itself.

The borough authority has also received 27 Code of Conduct complaints about Parton Parish Council since May of last year – an unprecedented number.

Of these, nine complaints have already been heard by the Standards and Ethics Committee, of which four have been upheld and five withdrawn, with a further 23 pending.

Several members of Parton Parish Council have tendered their resignations since May’s elections, with three resignations in August and another in September.

Parton parish councillors have also bombarded borough council staff with over 450 emails – considerably more than the enquiries received by all the other parish councils in Copeland put together.