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Calls For An 'Extraordinary' Meeting Of Full Council In Scarborough

Scarborough Town Hall

Published by Karen Liu at 5:43pm 26th September 2018. (Updated at 5:01pm 27th September 2018)

There are calls for an extraordinary meeting of full council at Scarborough Borough Council. 

A group of nine Borough Councillors say that an elected Councillor has been banned from entering council premises and attending council meetings by the council's Chief Executive.

They are asking for clarification from the Council's Cabinet that this process is legal.

The group of nine councillors from different parties (including members of the Green Group, the
Independent Group and the Labour Group) have today served on SBC Mayor Councillor Joe Plant, a formal requisition calling for an extraordinary meeting of full council.

"In light of recent Judgments, rulings and barristerial opinions, we call upon the Leader and cabinet to satisfy this council that actions by the Authority to exclude/disbar any elected member from entering council premises, attending meetings of council/committees and engaging with Council Officers, are lawful, proportionate and compliant with due process, as set out in the council's adopted and published Constitution, Protocols and Procedures, under the laws of England and Wales.

Should the Leadership fail to satisfy any member of this Council that a lawful, justifiable and defensible process is in place, the following Motions are to be placed before the Council:

  1. That the Council immediately reinstate, without restriction, any member or members so disbarred;
  2.  This Council commission a member-controlled, full, unlimited and independent external enquiry into the disbarment of elected members."

The group of nine say the requisition has been served in order to

"achieve clarity on the matter of the legality, or otherwise, of the Chief Executive's autonomous decision to disbar an unaffiliated member who has been struggling with a disablement."

In a media release from the nine Councillors they say..

"The Chief Executive's action appears to run counter to recent court judgments handed down in relation to similar disbarment's and/or sanctions imposed elsewhere in the country, and counter to legal opinion published by barristers and other experts in governance law, all of which indicate that, under the terms of the Localism Act 2011, only a Standards Committee may impose limitations of any kind on elected members' attendance - and then only limited constraints falling far short of the present comprehensive disbarment from all Council premises, from attending meetings of Council and Committees, and from contacting Council personnel.

The fundamental democratic principle at stake is that it cannot be right that the voters' choice can be nullified by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen."

Signatories to the Requisition, by Group (alphabetically), are:

  • Cllr. Mark Vesey (Green Group [Leader])
  • Cllr. Sam Cross (Ind. Group [Leader]),
  • Cllr. Norman Murphy (Ind. Group [Deputy Leader]),
  • Cllr. Jonathan Dodds (Ind. Group),
  • Cllr. Roxanne Murphy (Ind. Group)
  • Cllr. Janet Jefferson (Ind. Group)
  • Cllr. Tony Randerson (Lab. Group [Deputy Leader])
  • Cllr. Rob Barnett (Lab. Group) PROPOSER
  • Cllr. Eric Broadbent (Lab. Group) SECONDER

Councillor Tony Randerson represents Eastfield, he said:

"All I'm saying is, make that legal advice available to all councillors, so that we can have a look at it.

It's our duty to ensure those legalities are observed and that the council isn't brought into disrepute by going ahead with scenarios such as this that may be just a bit dubious. 

It may well be, once we've seen this legal advice, that everything will be fine and dandy.

The fact that nine members have signed the call in over this, the meeting must go ahead. 

Unless of course, common sense prevails at the end of the day and the Chief Executive and his officers show us that legal advice and that legal advice proves to our satisfaction, that the route they've taken was above board."

You can hear a statement from Councillor Randerson here:

Councillor Randerson spoke to Yorkshire Coast Radio about the issue:

Scarborough Borough Council issued a statement on Thursday afternoon ..

“The council has previously taken specialist external legal advice on the matter, which fully supports the Chief Executive’s actions. Earlier this year all councillors were informed that this advice had been taken. Since that time the external advice was reviewed in the light of a relevant legal case elsewhere in the UK. This did not change the council’s legal position, which continues to support the Chief Executive’s actions. Due to the significant sensitivity of the matter, it is not appropriate for the council to engage in further public discussion regarding the details and circumstances involved.

 The request for an extraordinary Full Council meeting will be dealt with in due course.”

Comments

There is 1 comment on this page.

zara, on 26th September 2018 9:21pm
it would have been really nice to see a couple of conservatives backing the motion. As a voter in the ward i feel as if the elite of the town hall have disenfranchised me. As for the 'there are two councillors for the ward' reply, yes there are but unfortunately its a case of jump - how high!!! I want a representative who will argue for what is right not what the party leader wants..

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