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Can a Councillor be asked to leave a meeting before it even starts?

0 votes
At a previous meeting, I and another Councillor were advised that we could not attend an 'in camera' meeting called by the Chair for immediately after the business meeting we were attending.  No reason was given, and despite my questioning, we decided to leave as requested.  We were never informed of any detail of the 'in camera' meeting, but both received a letter 2 weeks later, mine stating that "concerns had been raised about me posting on social media..... and reminding me not to post on social media, even though you [I] are trying to be helpful".  This refers to me advising Parish residents of the dates of forthcoming meetings on FaceBook.  I assumed that this was the subject (relevant to me) of the 'in camera' meeting that I wasn't allowed to attend, but this has never been confirmed.
Having discussed the matter with the other excluded Councillor, it appears that their 'charge' was that they were subject of an "outburst" at an earlier meeting and "used foul language"; they were explicitly asked to make an apology "in private at the end of the next meeting".  However, on opening the next meeting the Chair said to the Councillor "Before we start the meeting, Councillor 'X' has something to say" [or words to that effect]; this caught the Councillor off guard and they responded with "No, I don't think so".  It was at this point that the chair said "In that case, I would ask you to leave the meeting"; the Councillor left.

I and another Councillor questioned this, only to be told by the Chair that "we were not allowed to know the detail as it was confidential" [or words to that effect].

My primary question is:  Can the Chair treat a Councillor in this way and banish them from a meeting before it even starts?  Even if the process and outcome of the 'in camera' meeting was correct (in my view, it wasn't and their approach to dealing with our 2 issues was carried out in the form of a 'Kangaroo court' as neither of us were advised of the 'charge' and offered the chance to give our side), the ask on my fellow Councillor was explicitly requested to be done in private after the next meeting, but they were thrown out of said meeting before it even started.

Secondly, I suspect at the next meeting, we will be faced with the exact same situation, and if this happens, am I within my rights to raise a 'Point of Order' with the Chair?

Thanks in advance of any support/advice
by (120 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
If the meeting from which you were excluded was a formal meeting of the council, then the chair had no right to exclude you. There are no circumstances in which a councillor can be excluded from a council meeting. While members of the public can be required to leave if the chair regards their behaviour to be unacceptable, a councillor has an absolute right to attend a meeting of the council of which they are a member. The only sanction available to the chair is to adjourn the meeting.

On the other hand, a group of councillors can hold a meeting, and decide for themselves who should attend. But it is not then a council meeting and its conclusions have no more force than the opinions of any other group of citizens.
by (31.0k points)
Any complaints about a Councillors behaviour must be dealt with by the Monitoring Officer a Parish Council can’t  “ try “ a Councillor and it especially can’t punish a Councillor

Do what I did self report the complaints to the Monitoring Officer and insist on it being held n public
The only circumstances that a councillor can be excluded from a meeting other than after declaring a disclosable interest in the subject matter in accordance with the code of conduct (said councillor is required to leave for the purpose of that agenda item only) would be if the councillor is not a formal member of a committee and that committee moves into confidential session for a specific agenda item.  In such circumstances the councillor who is attending that committee meeting is attending in the same way as a member of the public would attend.
Any and all council meetings (including committee meetings) must be convened at three days notice and must publish an agenda even if the meeting moves immediately into confidential session where the public are excluded.  The circumstances you describe suggest an informal gathering but as such they can't make decisions or act upon them.  I entirely agree that following the Ledbury case, no council can take action against any councillor (however possibly justified!) but must refer complaints about poor behaviour or otherwise to the monitoring officer
Ah! the infamous Ledbury case at which the local NALC association person covered themselves in glory(not) with the advice given to the County Council who afterwards pulled their membership. Apparently no censure was forthcoming to the county associate of NALC from head office. Great policing.
+1 vote
NO!  The Chair cannot assume a pseudo disciplinary or pseudo judicial role or set up some kind of kangaroo court.  The chair has no elavated powers over any other councillor other than the right to unilaterally call an extraordinary meeting.   If he tries it again do not leave the room & tell him you will log a complaint against him with the monitoring officer for breach of the code of conduct (Trying to confer a disadvantage on you and not treating you with respect).
by (31.1k points)

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