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0 votes
Meeting called and advertised properly. Turned up to access the meeting to find the door locked. Have checked and meeting did go ahead at the time and place advertised.
by (260 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
Have you asked the council for an explanation? Maybe the door just wasn't on the latch?
by (24.4k points)
Yes, and was told that as nobody was there when the meeting started that the door was then locked as the assumption was that nobody was coming.
0 votes

Yes under the Public Bodies (Admission to meetings) Act 1960 4(c) it states:

while the meeting is open to the public, the body shall not have power to exclude members of the public from the meeting [F10and duly accredited representatives of newspapers attending for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for those newspapers shall, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report and, unless the meeting is held in premises not belonging to the body or not on the telephone, for telephoning the report at their own expense ] [F11;

So yes you should have access at any point of the meeting (unless it is an item to which the public can be excluded). It would be illegal, but not criminal, to prevent you from exercising your rights by locking the door.

I guess they could try and claim that they would have let you in if you knocked, but i doubt any judge would buy that. But unfortunately this is something that would likely never get before a court as there is no one that would be willing to enforce this law.

Would also probably be a breach of the Code of Conduct that requires transparency. Again the MO would be probably be useless in enforcing this though.

by (4.6k points)
0 votes
Disappointing but probably not at all uncommon.
Maybe an isolated rural location or a more urban setting where there could have been security concerns based upon previous experience….

More likely however to simply be a bad habit which has been perpetuated over years with little review or thought given to how appropriate a practice it may be.
Any council that has even the slightest chance of having a public interest / attendance should not only be embracing and welcoming it, but they should be actively seeking avenues to encourage, enhance and embrace such public interest.
“Illegal” is a bit strong and unlikely to gain any traction - disappointing, inappropriate, poor practice, definitely.
I’ve seen Cllrs ushered in to a hall with the door closed behind them and kept locked until the official start time when the plebs are allowed in. It’s just a really poor optic which sustains a “them and us” stand-of-ish attitude and misses a ripe opportunity for public engagement and discussion before a meeting starts. Others may think differently, but this is a fantastic opportunity for Cllrs to chat with public and for public to see Cllrs doing little bits of pre-meeting business.
Every opportunity to enhance public engagement should be grasped with both hands!
by (21.1k points)
The worst “ poor optic “ I saw was a chair who brought  an egg timer ⏲️ with them as they knew someone they didn’t like wanted to speak

Sometime later a subsequent chair kept  interrupting a speaker and then falsely claimed they’d run out of time
I’ve had the egg timer treatment
If only people would realise, the harder you obstruct, the more determined your adversary becomes - there must be a Greek myth or a Chinese proverb, maybe something by Sun Tzu….

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