Newsletter ignites passions at Sanson

A newsletter that has been causing a stir in Sanson was the hot topic at the town's community committee meeting last night.

More than 20 people, including Manawatu district councillors Barbara Cameron and Wayne Ellery, filed into the Sanson library in Dundas St to discuss community issues, including recycling, traffic and helping the town's primary school with fundraising efforts.

But it was Sanson resident Ann Fullerton's parish pump-style publication The Occasional Newsletter that had tensions running high.

The past few copies of the newsletter, which is published as its name suggests, pronounced the movements of the "village gay", a suspected peeping tom and provided alternative commentary on community committee meetings because Mrs Fullerton said the minutes were "abbreviated" and "inaccurate".

During the almost two-hour meeting, almost every person there shared their thoughts on the publication, with some calling it "lies", "stirring of the honey pot", and "slander".

But others defended Mrs Fullerton's right to publish what she likes.

Community committee chairwoman Donny Wilson said the newsletter had got out of hand.

"There may be a thread of truth in there, but it has been embellished out of proportion greatly."

Sanson resident Richard Gravenor said personal grievances should be dealt with outside committee meetings and not on the pages of the newsletter.

Sanson resident Andrea Mackenzie said the community division caused by the newsletter worried her.

However, resident Bruce DeCleene defended Mrs Fullerton.

"You don't have to agree with Ann, and you don't have to agree she's got everything right.

"But you're ganging up on her ... and I think it's absolutely abhorrent."

Resident Craig Prestige said the community needed to leave the newsletter behind and reconcile.

"Why don't you get together and make the community a better place instead of fighting ... we should be pulling together, not being divided."

Mrs Fullerton, who said she is on a benefit, stood by her newsletter as truthful and said examples, dates and references in her article proved this.

"I do it as a public service and I do believe that those that live off other people's work have a duty to give back the community ... in whatever way they're capable of doing."

She became frustrated a few times, saying she was being "intentionally provoked" by members at the meeting.

In the end, Mrs Fullerton said if households requested to be taken off the Occasional Newsletter's mailing list she would stop delivering them..

The Manawatu Standard