Tuesday, 14/2/17 Facilities & Recreation Committee : Public Question

Having listened to the public question, item 4 on the Agenda, asking the Council to consider organising a floral display in the park to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War 1 celebrations in November 2018 and for the Council to encourage schools to get involved by designing a suitable display.

I thought this a good idea and was about to move a motion to discuss items 4 and 5 together;  item 5 being a Council proposal to participate in the national event in November 2018 to mark these celebrations.  Not for the first time, Cllr. Geldard moved a “Point of Order” to stop me from speaking and thereby attempting to stop my motion being presented.  My motion proposed that both the public question request and the Town Council’s recommendations be discussed together and for the Town Clerk to consider how best to involve children from schools in the town/parishes to celebrate the Centenary.

What followed was prolonged, unnecessary and a disgraceful lack of respect as witnessed by members of the public and Councillors present. The video itself does not reflect the rudeness and lack of respect that I believe was deliberate.

Under the Council’s Standing Orders (rules) implemented and adopted by the majority Labour Group to suppress general discussion when a public question is asked, only the Clerk or Chair can reply to the public question but Councillors can move a motion to bring the question back to another Agenda that would allow debate.  This is what I attempted to do. The Town Clerk gave a preplanned statement that also covered item 5 (WW1 National celebrations) giving an excuse for Cllrs. Geldard and Daley to say that they had now moved on from the public question discussion to the next Agenda item.  The Chair stopped any further discussion and completely ignored my concern that we had not satisfied the Council’s own rules in dealing with the public question.  I hope such behaviour does not discourage public questions in the future.  I will wait and see if this ‘good idea’ public question comes back to Council next year in a different format.

A previous complaint I made concerning a Councillor’s disrespectful behaviour was classed as healthy debate so I will not be reporting this issue to the Standards Board.  I will let the public judge for themselves when they view the Council’s video recording of the meeting.

Liz Maddison

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One comment

  1. I’m astounded that this is the process. These meetings are so old fashioned and hierarchical. This is a town council, not the houses of Parliament! The public should be involved in roundtable meetings, where everyone has the opportunity to debate.

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