Comedy Club – Dinnington Branch

I and Mr Lewis, that finest of hecklers, attended Dinnington Town Council meeting on Monday 9th December.

By this time I had become disillusioned by the councils cavalier use of the 1972 local government act to disbar the public from a large section of the council meeting.

The general public, myself included, had for a long time acted like sheep and left the meeting when the shepherd, sorry chairman told us to at a certain point on the agenda.

I quote below the section of the agenda  and how the council uses this to disbar the public.
“That under section 100A (4) of the local government act 1972 the press and the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in part 1 of schedule 12A to the local government act 1972.”

There then follow eleven items on this part of the agenda, only one of which falls within the act, the rest have no relevance under the act that would need the public to be ejected.

When I asked the chairman, Ralph McIver, to explain the act he said and I quote, “I know nothing about it and I am not political like you.”  So I asked him to consult the clerk, Kathleen Amies*,  whose job it is to know, judging from the blank expression on her face it was obvious she did not know either.

So I asked the three borough councillors**, they could not explain it either.  So I pointed out to the chairman that if they did not know the act surely he should withdraw it from the agenda, he refused.

I then asked him how squared item 3 on the agenda with the part of the agenda that has all these items in private session when this states,” To determine if matters should be dealt with in open or confidential session.”  They have already placed the items in private session without any discussion or resolutions.

He of course could not answer.

The upshot of the meeting was that when it came to the part of the agenda where the public was supposed to leave Mr Lewis and myself staged a sit in.

The meeting was suspended and all the councillors went home.  The problem for the chairman is that he has to re-convene the meeting at the place he left off.  so if he has not withdrawn the contentious 1972 act another sit in will ensue.

Dave Smith

*Kathleen Amies (Cert CIH; Dip Hsg; PGCert)
Town Clerk and Finance Officer

** Simon Tweed, Jacquie Falvey and her sister, Jane Havenhand.

4 thoughts on “Comedy Club – Dinnington Branch

  1. Dave, thank you for that. You are in the process of uncovering rule bending possibly to the point of illegality!

    Your Council will not be the only one, falling victim to this outrageous abuse of the system. If yours is also infected by this cancer upon the body politic, rothpol@rikv.net would like to hear from you?

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  2. All very silly.

    I think I’m right in saying that the Local Government Act 1972 doesn’t apply to dinky little Parish and Town Councils. The relevant act is still the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 (as amended),
    I’m sure Dave can and will correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    A quick check on the draft minutes of this 9 December meeting and minutes of earlier meetings suggests that prior to this meeting the 1960 Act had always been referenced,… but not on 09DEC2013 …
    The phrase “clowns and comic singers” comes to mind.

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    • Thanks for that important information. Although treated in jocular fashion, this subject is of the utmost seriousness!
      Would like to give this the treatment it deserves but lack the time at the moment. If anyone would assist we would all be grateful, perhaps you would like to oblige RR.

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  3. The amended 1960 act, which was done through Margaret Thatchers maiden speech in 1971 applies to all councils. 100A (4) subsection 1 states: “a meeting of the council shall be open to the public except to the extent that they are excluded under sub-section 4. The gist of this part is that the council has to exclude the public by resolution on all items on the agenda, each item take separately, that they want to put into private session. Each resolution has to explain in detail why and which section of schedule 12A it eludes to. !2A lists all the exempt information. Now what is interesting about the 9th of December Dinnington Town council agenda is item three and I quote, to determine if matters should be dealt with in open or confidential session as stated. So one could be forgiven for thinking that any item on the agenda that the town council felt it needed to put into confidential session would be dealt with under this heading and resolutions proposed in order to exclude the public: not so it is ignored. When we come to item twelve of the agenda we see printed above it the following. That under section 100A(4) of the local government act 1972, the press and the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in part 1 of schedule 12A to the local government act 1972. There has been no discussion nor any resolutions passed on these items, eleven in all, prior to this. Close scrutiny, using the act as stated, of these items there is only one that fits the criteria as laid down in schedule 12A this being the case the council still has to propose and pass a resolution putting this into confidential session, and explaining which part of 12A is relevant. It is at this juncture that the chairman requests that the public leave myself and another resident refused and the meeting was adjourned. I would advise all activists who attend their local council meetings to pay close attention to the agendas.

    Dave Smith

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