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0 votes
If councillors attend a meeting of a council committee of which they are not members and the committee resolves to go into 'closed session' and exclude the press and public, does this exclusion also apply to the  councillors attending the meeting but who are not members of that committee?
Surely at council meetings, 'the public' does not include councillors and, therefore, any councillors who attend (as observers) any committee of which they are not members, are allowed to stay while 'closed session' items are discussed.
by (480 points)

4 Answers

0 votes
Councillors who attend a committee meeting but are not members of it have the same status as members of the public and are excluded if the press and public are excluded.
by (9.5k points)
0 votes
We've had this come up. Well, our question was whether councillors not on a committee can speak at the public questions agenda item for the committee. The Local Authority Deputy Monitoring Officer informed me that they can't, because they are councillors and not members of the public, but as such, they should be able to approach the committee in other ways (such as informing the committee chair that they wish to speak). This then led me to ask about whether such councillors should leave with members of the public during closed sessions and they maintained the line and said they shouldn't - because they are councillors, not members of the public.

However, I really don't think the Deputy Monitoring Officer at my LA is right (perhaps it were the case in years gone by). Imagine a confidential staffing issue that the clerk wished to raise with the staffing committee about one particular councillor, yet that councillor was present because they couldn't be removed. What John1706 says is what I believe is right and it's the current advice from NALC in Legal Topic Note 5E. Essentially, if you're sitting on the "business" side of the table, you stay, and everyone else should vacate.
by (880 points)
I agree with John1706 and don't believe your DMO is correct
0 votes
Look at it from the other end of the telescope.
How are non committee Cllrs going to be removed?

They are not - they will simply say I’m not press, I’m not public, I’m staying.
Check mate - your move.
If they want to stay there is no mechanism to remove them. They are not disrupting the meeting by just sitting there. There is no ref that says they must leave so it really is check mate.
So, is it hypothetical or has it already happened?
by (17.4k points)
Standing Order 2A states that "No person shall obstruct the transaction of business at a meeting or behave offensively or improperly" so a member of the council refusing to acknowledge the authority of the chair is clearly behaving improperly. With an appropriate motion agreed by the voting members at the meeting, the individual may be instructed to leave. If they disobey the motion, the chair may suspend the meeting. If the reconvened meeting is solely to consider the confidential matter, it is not a public meeting, so no notice need be provided to anybody other than the members of the committee.
It would be neither obstructive, disruptive, improper nor offensive to refuse to recognise (or more appropriately reject) the ‘authority’ of the chair if it is being miss applied.
You are grasping at straws in an attempt to justify the indefensible.
The counter to your suggestion would be to raise a complaint against a chair that acted in such a way since they would be setting out to disadvantage an individual by preventing them access to information to which they are entitled.
I’ve travelled this road - had a meeting suspended due to my video recording, been asked to  desist by the chair, stated my disinclination to acquiesce, a vote to require me to leave the meeting, my disinclination to acquiesce, meeting abandoned.
Complaint submitted to MO in regard of the inappropriate action you suggest above and the idle bar steward refused to action the complaint on the basis that it was an action of the PC rather than an individual or group even though I individually named the chair as an incompetent fool and another Cllr as a liar for intentionally misrepresenting truth.
I’d suggest the reference you provide is incomplete, inappropriate and that the matter remains unresolved through reference to any existing legislation or proprietary practice notes.
If there were a Cllr so determined to attend the business of a committee for which they were not a member there is no existing means to prevent them.
The bigger question should actually be why would a committee (clique?) seek to exclude a fellow Cllr - now that’s more likely to be where your true issue lies….
0 votes
The council resolve to exclude press and public from meetings, but the councillors are the council, not members of the public, and are collectively responsible for all of its decisions and actions. Therefore they should not be excluded.
by (34.6k points)

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