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0 votes

Dear all i have attached a live video recording from my meeting today. Where i asked 2 questions relating to two items on the agenda the only info on the agenda was.

1, to agree Ajbunn for grass cutting contract 23/24

2. To agree breakwater it contract for 23/24

There was no costs no supportong documents no other quotes nothing except the wording above to be agreed by the full council.

I asked simple questions and observations and this was the response from the chairman and the clerk please can someone explain what i did wrong.

Uploaded video to streamsble

by (330 points)
edited by

8 Answers

–3 votes
The first question is do you have the permission of your Council to record the meeting and to broadcast the contents of this meeting ?
by (590 points)
The meeting is public, the meeting is broadcast live to a hosting page for any member of the public to watch at any time so simple answer is yes.
There is a legal right to record (and broadcast) the proceedings of council meetings held in public. No permission is required.
Permission?

It appears to be a council recording / broadcast…. Not that any ‘permission’ is required anyway - it is a public meeting now being subjected to public review.
Maybe, through such scrutiny, observably poor behaviour (of the clerk and chair) will receive the constructive criticism it deserves and standards, across the entire sector, may be dragged up to a acceptable standard.
BZ that Cllr!
I find it stunning that after all these years that there are still people who lack a basic grasp of the law surrounding the recording of meetings
Of course you can record meetings and of course you have the right to distribute those recordings
I will always relish the looks and gasps of abstract horror on the first occasion of my whipping out the go-pro at a council meeting - I’m smiling now even after all those years
+1 vote
It is rather unfortunate that the parameters for recording are not understood even by some chairmen. It is also unfortunate that where recordings are made by the council themselves it is doubly unfortunate that as much time and money is not used to enable an efficient sound system with individual mikes for each councillor so that those watching can actually hear what is being said.
by (27.2k points)
0 votes
You should absolutely be commended for asking entirely appropriate questions in relation to a financial commitment you are being asked to vote on.
From observation of the clip (which wasn’t an easy watch / listen) your clerk presented an aggressive, unprofessional and wholly inappropriate account of them self.  That they were unprepared to answer wholly appropriate, detailed questions in relation to the proposal reflects very poorly, perhaps accurately, upon their lack of preparation for the proposal. Your questions were not only entirely reasonable, they were properly considered and balanced in presentation.
In your position, having been called to speak by the chair, to be interrupted, repeatedly and so aggressively, by the clerk would properly justify a point of order - only 1 person may speak at a time and each speaker must be called to speak by the chair (check your own SOs for exact detail) - however, given the observable lack of presence from the chair, it is thought unlikely that they would find the clerk’s behaviour inappropriate.
You stick to your guns! It is your DUTY to properly satisfy yourself of due diligence.
In my opinion it is the remainder of the [silent] council, the aggressive clerk and the impotent chair that should be navel gazing.
by (21.8k points)
edited by
Thankyou roind again this is unfortunately not the first time infact almost every meeting where i raise a question is the same. I have written a letter of complaint but am still considering delivering it as i know nothing will be done by the other councillors as they have no issues with the clerk and see nothing thats being said or done as unacceptable.
Every time you are interrupted you should raise a point of order and state the standing order that only 1 person may speak at a time. You might also remind all that the clerk doesn’t have any place interrupting or contributing to councillor debate.
That’s the beauty of “the rules” - they are what they are. If you are interrupted it is a breach of ‘order.’

You could also strongly but politely remind the clerk that it is their responsibility to provide accurate, fulsome and detailed reports for council consideration. Failure, refusal or inability to do so demonstrates a public derelictionnof duty.
Have the meeting with the clerk - remind her she is an EMPLOYEE of the council and you are a councillor.
+1 vote
Not unreasonable at all. The behaviour of the clerk and the chair was appalling. You are doing what you are there to do and all credit to you for doing so. Am not sure why your fellow councillors are bothering to turn up as they appear to have nothing to say.

Unfortunately I have found myself in almost exactly the same scenario. It’s no wonder that so many of us give up in the end.
by (260 points)
Thankyou for the reply as ive said above this is not the first and the clerk has demanded a meeting with myself over my attitude and way i speak to her in meetings. So its good to see people see her attitude as not professional and its not just me seeing things that are not there.
With respect - you should not speak directly to the clerk in a meeting.  Your comments should always be addressed to the Chairman.  Equally - the clerk should not speak directly to you in a meeting.  They should, rather, address their comments to the Chairman.  That convention is aimed at avoiding a head to head confrontation.  We live in hope!
I was addressing my questions to the chairman which is why the chairmen the proceeded to state i was nit-picking by asking qiestions due to a complete lack of information provided, the clerk then proceeded to speak over me or direct questions back at me. It is really difficult to speak freely in our meetings as even with standing orderes they are usally ignored. And no one else seems bothered by the lack of information and prefer to sit in silence and just raise their hands.
That's fair enough, it was just a bit of friendly advice. I was simply responding to your comment that "... the way I speak to her in meetings ...", which led me to think that there is direct dialogue.
+1 vote
A very combative performance by the officer which which i personally felt was far to emotional based on the clip shared. Would it be a fair assessment to suggest that tensions have been building for some time? From bits and pieces in the public domain gather their has been some tension/issues within your Town Council for some considerable time with relations increasingly strained and emotions running very high. Perhaps following the conclusion of the scheduled elections (understand you have elections in May) it would be a opportunity to reset relations and start to address whatever has happened and try to move forward. If that clip is representative of your officers conduct (not simply one off frustated outburst) you have got a much bigger problem mind.
by (9.1k points)
Unfortunately Progress this new clerk was hired less than a year ago and from the first meeting she attended this attitude, the way she speaks to myself has been documented streamed,recorded and evidenced from day 1. I believe as do members of the public i habe spoken to the clerk thinks im not qualified to make amy descions or ask any questions. And that when i believe something is wrong or i believe the council makes a descioned based on little facts i keep residents informed via social media. Yet have been told it is not my role to keep residents informed answer any questions they raise and i need to direct them to the clerk. Last time i checked unless its changed that was exactly what my role was and to ask questions and scrutinise anything on the agenda.
Briefly scanning through the various minutes, there is a LOT of business appearing to be undertaken in closed session and this appears to be a well established habit across all meetings.
Often a pretty good combat indicator of things not being quite as they should if there is a lot of clandestine proceedings. Very rarely and by quantified exception should the public be excluded.
0 votes
It might just be my connection but it appears that the video has now been “archived” and is no longer available to watch…

If it has been taken down then that would be a very predictable and disappointing reaction from party or parties that may feel hard done by.

It is always advisable to retain a personal copy just in case it has been “taken down”

I was going to re-watch because I forgot to note the name of the council - I fancied having a look over the website.
by (21.8k points)
edited by
Interestingly couldnt find the Town Councils Youtube Account either tonight.
They have closed it i have just been on and wvery video has been removed and deleted.
You’ve opened a can of whoopass now ):0)
I have already emailed the clerk all officers and inclided all councillors in the email, asking why the public channel has been deleted. Who authorised every public video to be deleted and for what reason. Round i have sent you a private message that will probably explain why the video's have been removed luckily i have a set up which recorded every meeting for my own documentation incase they wver did this.
Just seen message and replied
–3 votes
I watched your uploaded video with interest, the gentleman on video link should have been muted to prevent his additional comments being heard on the recording.

It appears that the council has a finance committee who has reviewed this contract and therefore there should be some minutes from that meeting that councillors could access, was there a recommendation? You have to trust fellow councillors & clerks are doing their jobs and if not there is a process to follow to deal with this.

The questions may have been valid but the timing was wrong - the amount of questioning was far too excessive for the meeting with the clerk was being publicly questioned and some may feel a lack of respect / humiliation. If an email had been sent requesting for more information when the agenda was released this could have been avoided. It is no wonder that clerks are leaving the profession.

Civility and Respect should be the forefront of any meeting and councillors to work together professionally for the best of the community. Councillors can be very passionate about items but they also need to be mindful of new IT processes,  "commercial in confidence" clauses, Data protection and GDPR which sometimes impedes on the regulations of the LGA 1972.

It is about time that all the regulations and councillor training is brought into line to compliment each other because the current guidance is inadequate and causes these sort of situations.
by (6.3k points)
Whilst I agree with most of what you have stated, i had already checked and the finance committee received no documentation they were just advised by the clerk that the company was her recommendation. We gotnthe agenda on Thursday is was then bank holiday with the meeting on Tuesday.
I have previously asked for supporting documentation to be included in the agenda. So councillors can see all quotes yet they are either held at finance under the line or the supporting information is lacking or none existant. This then raises the question how is a Councillor supposed to question any recommendation with no information. Its all well and good finance which is 4 people making almost all descions for the council but we are a council of 19 and we all have responsibility. So therefore im not prepared to just raise my hand because the clerk says so. Ive been a Councillor for 13 years and its is only this clerk who sees fit to provide no information the previous 2 clerks have been amazing and supplied all information which were taken to committees to the full council so they can see check and vlidate.
I half agree with this and it is why I made the point about addressing comments to the Chairman rather than directly to the officers present or to other councillors.  That may appear 'old fashioned' but the convention is there to avoid head to head discussions/disputes.

This applies equally to officers who should signal to the Chairman that they wish to speak rather than simply leaping in.  Their comments should also be addressed to the Chairman rather individual councillors.

In my opinion, there are faults on all sides in the video I watched and lessons to be learned.
For clarity.  I am commenting on the post from Clerk Gable.
From the evidence within the previously available video extract and a cursory examination of the council webpage….

 - Lack  of detailed briefing papers in advance of meeting.

- A Cllr asking entirely appropriate questions at entirely the right time, place and context.

 - A seemingly passive / dormant council.

 - A Bolshy clerk riding rough shod over well established policies and procedures.

 - A chair with either no ability or desire to adequately preside over the proceedings.

 - A council with a penchant for excessive closed session activity.

 - A clerk ‘demanding’ a meeting to ‘discuss’ councillor behaviour.
Fairly easy to predict where this is heading….
0 votes
After sending the clerk and chairman an email earlier today in response to the clerk wishing a meeting with myself for my attitude i directed her to the monitoring officer and stated id be happy to discuss with the monitoring officer and supply all evidence to protect myself and way and behold a few hours later our public youtube page which hosts all our live streams has been switched to private so no members of the community can view them.
by (330 points)
You should now ask by who’s authority has this been done?

Does your social media policy or a previous decision of council state that the meetings will be live-streamed and available for public viewing at the webpage?

If yes, by what / who’s authority and direction has this action been executed?

There is a potential CoC breach if chair has unilaterally authorised it - preventing someone from accessing information which they are entitled to and possibly bringing them self and their office into disrepute - you can’t just turn it off because public viewing is raising public concern. Or is it the clerk that has changed access? Again, on what authority?

What’s the betting you will be classified as vexatious or troublesome next
It was a descion of full council to stream all full council and committee meetings to social media via facebook and youtube. The clerk had already refused to stream to facebook stating that streaming is part of a much wider communications statergy that she is working on. Yet the above recommendation and subsequent approval from council was agreed before she became clerk. Its a shame i cant inform residents of the public what is going on though as then i would be classed as bullying the clerk.
You can use your own social media to inform residents that video footage has been removed from public access in contradiction of a council resolution “…but at this time it is unclear on who’s authority / direction this apparently unilateral action has been taken…”
Not at all facts are facts you can do what you want with your recording and  you can’t possibly be considered to be bullying the Clerk by posting what was said at a public meeting
I have kist had this reply from the chairman still no reply from the clerk.

Management of the Council's external communications (which includes YouTube) is an operational matter and the responsibility of the Clerk. It does not require the input of any councillor or the council as a corporate body.
Refer the Chair to the decision made by Full Council and ask for an explanation as to where in Standing Orders  the Clerk can override the decision
This shows why it is critical for all Councils to record all meetings as I have no doubt by doing so the behaviour of both Officers and Councillors improves dramatically
Thankyou jules I have already done exactly that. Unfortunately even with out streaming which has been being done for a couple of years now some officers and councillors like to belittlie and bully others and when anything is said they are threatened with monitoring officer Unfortunately i dont back down which is why advice from this group is invaluable
Only after having walked such a path would you realise the absolute necessity of what you describe Jules.
It is so unbelievably important to maintain your own independent record of events.

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