I THINK Cllr John Thorne must have completely misunderstood the work that our group [Wellington Mills CIC] has been doing recently if he describes it as a “scam” ('Community group's 'scam'', County Gazette, March 7).

At both our public meetings – attended by a total of almost 400 residents and business people – and in all of the subsequent media coverage, the CIC has been at pains to explain that it has no ownership of Tonedale Mill.

Our role has been to explore what the community want to see those historic buildings used for and to find ways to make that happen.

Clearly, the vast majority of the local community we have engaged with at these meetings (and subsequently) have overwhelmingly been in favour of our efforts today - many have gone out of their way to offer more practical support and assistance - for which we are humbled and extremely grateful.

READ MORE: Community group accused of 'scamming' the public

For Cllr Thorne to claim that the CIC is “not really working with local authorities” is absurd.

We meet frequently with Dr Jo O’Hara, the Wellington at Risk Heritage Officer for TDBC, Cllr Mark Edwards, deputy leader and Cllr John Williams, leader of the borough council, attended our Consultation Day last October.

Cllr Thorne could have engaged at any time in the past six months.

Historic England’s senior advisor, John Ette, actively encouraged the groups formation and has remained fully engaged and supportive of our formation and efforts to date.

MP Rebecca Pow and Gideon Amos (prospective Liberal Democrat candidate) have also meet with some or all or the CIC directors and been kept informed.

We have a clear record of all this activity, if Cllr Thorne wants to have sight of all the invitations to all the meetings and events.

Our recent grant application to the Architectural Heritage Fund came under a great deal more professional scrutiny than that provided by Cllr Thorne, and the AHF was happy to help fund the CIC to pay for conceptual work by local heritage architect THREAD’s Claire Fear, that underpinned the consultation meetings – to which Cllr Thorne and every other town councillor was invited.

Many Wellington parish councillors, including Mayor Cllr James, attended both the initial consult and the follow-up. All have had numerous opportunities to engage in dialogue with some or all of the CIC’s directors: local people, giving up their own time.

We have also produced a Facebook page, newsletter for updates/comments, for ‘open accessible communications’ and Cllr Thorne could have engaged with his thoughts and comments (good or bad) directly to one or all of our team: so we could have discussed his concerns, in a mutually professional, polite and respectful manner.

Grateful thanks go to the numerous councillors who spoke in our defence at the town council meeting.

Ultimately only one member, Cllr Thorne, out of 10, voted against giving the CIC a grant to fund further work.

Wellington Mills CIC