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 so if he has not withdrawn the contentious 1972 act another sit in will ensue.
*Kathleen Amies (Cert CIH; Dip Hsg; PGCert)
Town Clerk and Finance Officer
** Simon Tweed, Jacquie Falvey and her sister, Jane Havenhand.