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At a recent meeting, the following items were on the agenda - 1. Motion received from Cllr X, to appoint Z, retired Councillor as an advisor to the Council, drawing on their extensive knowledge and experience, having served the Council both as Chair and Councillor for a number of years.

A separate agenda item was later in the meeting was simply recorded as 

2. Matters to be discussed in closed session due to confidential nature. Public to be excluded

I wondered with point 2 whether the council should have recorded on the agenda the subject that was going to be discussed, as I fear this could be used to remove members of the public from meetings. Interestingly enough, when they discussed appointing the former councillor as an advisor the public were present, including the former councillor they were talking about, should the council have held this discussion without members of the public being present?

by (640 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
Members of the public can only be prevented from witnessing agenda items where these are classed as exempt or confidential as in Schedule 12 of the Local Govt Act 1972.  Even then, the Council must resolve to exclude the public because they accept that Schedule 12 applies.  My view is that an overarching agenda title should be provided  e.g. "Staffing Issues"  Legal advice re Council assets" etc for excluded items.  If that is not provided, some Cllrs might not know exactly what the exclusion applies to and whether or not they should agree to resolve it.
by (35.4k points)
1 what are the terms of reference ?For example will they be able to talk when “ ordinary “ members of the public won’t  ?
2 Agree 100% with Graeme but it’s an academic point as there’s no one to enforce it anyway it’s used by at least one Parish Council to prevent the public knowing how Councillors vote when the Councils “ policy “ conflicts with public opinion
No details were provided regarding terms of reference, but I know from experience that the council would pay no attention to any terms of reference they came up with. From what the councillor who suggested this advisor role mentioned during the agenda item it would be to enable this former councillor to speak during meetings.
(The council has already been told they cannot have an advisor on the full council but could look to get someone with the specialist skills to advise on committees except the finance committee)
0 votes
Is this a paid position?  If so, when did the retired councillor retire?
by (53.7k points)
No, it's not a paid position, the councillor only retired in May and there are a number of vacancies on the council which can be filled by co-option, so it was suggested during the meeting that they may want to consider coming back onto the council
So on the face of it they’d sooner change their rules than co-opt someone,  who knows one day they might not even be quorate?
Have the minutes for the meeting you mentioned been published if so what do they show about the closed part of the meeting?
One thing people forget is that unless GDPR is involved minutes still have to be published
They have a number of vacancies on the council, but they seem more interested in giving a voice to this one instead of looking to encourage new councillors. Minutes have been published but no mention whatsoever that a closed section of the meeting took place
The minutes should confirm the resolution to exclude the press and public from an agenda item and it is customary to record the nature of the item, as this validates the decision to exclude. If the business discussed during the closed session was genuinely confidential, details should not be included in the minutes, but should be recorded elsewhere as a confidential minute.
Dave it all depends on the definition of “ genuinely confidential “
Say bids for a contract are being considered in confidence once the matter is resolved all minutes should be released
In this case improperly in my opinion no reason is given so no one is any the wiser
If it were me I’d ask for a copy of the minutes from the closed session
Yep, this is an odd one, as there is an argument for excluding press and public, as the agenda item was to establish a new role, albeit unpaid, but it could be considered to be a staffing matter. By "genuinely confidential", I'm referring to one of the topics listed in the legislation. But, as WhiteKnight pointed out, they discussed it in open forum, then had a confidential item later in the meeting, which may or may not be related to the same matter, by which time it appears they had decided to adopt a different approach to the whole issue by using a cooption.

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