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0 votes
An extraordinary meeting has been called to discuss a controversial local  project and the agenda has been issued .  However things have really kicked off on a local forum and some extreme views/comments put forward . It seems that many Councillors feel somewhat intimidated and seek a cooling off period.  Does the power exist for the caller of meeting (or the clerk)  to cancel a meeting once the summons has been issued ?
by (5.0k points)

3 Answers

+1 vote
Once an agenda has been published then no the meeting can't be cancelled but if no one attends (or rather there are insufficient councillors for a quorum), the the meeting cannot take place.  Even if you know in advance that there will be insufficient members in attendance, someone has to attend the venue to explain to the public who turn up that the meeting cannot proceed.
However, think how this might be viewed by the public who do turn up.  It could make matters worse.  If you think the meeting will get out of control, I'd suggest alerting the police and ask for someone to attend and your Chair does need to have a level head and an ability to control the meeting.  Sometimes you have to grasp the nettle and just get on with it, especially if it's important locally.  The public need to have a forum to express their views sometimes, even if the matter isn't necessarily one that the council can resolve.
by (19.6k points)
0 votes
The meeting has presumably been called to have discussion on a matter that's a concern for the WHOLE community. Who better to hold such a meeting than the PC?
Of course you are going to get ( and should welcome ) differing points of view. That is the basis for civilised debate. The fact that there have been possibly extreme view points stated should not deter from the matter being discussed. If comments made on social media are of a threatening or illegal nature then of course police should be informed.

Such a meeting will of course require a strong, diplomatic chair who can guide and control the meeting to a satisfactory conclusion ensuring that all parties have a say thus having an "open" meeting with practical boundaries stated at the commencement of proceedings. Also stating that the meeting will be closed immediately if the boundaries are crossed. It can be done.
by (27.2k points)
I recall having a similar situation some years ago. Lots of nasty comments on F/book, but on the day of the meeting not one of the F/book armchair warriors turned up, although we did get a number of other residents turn up and express their views. We only had one gent - know to the local police for causing trouble - who gave some verbal, otherwise it was a non event. After the meeting, we, the council, dropped the proposal like a hot brick. Democracy at work I would say.
Conclusion, people tend to be nasty on social media, but perhaps more moderated if and when they turn up.
+1 vote
Whenever we have an issue that we anticipate might engender a difference of opinion amongst those present, the Chairman reads out the following statement at the commencement of proceedings.

"Public Time – Standard Introduction
I’d like to thank the members of the public who have joined tonight’s meeting and as usual we will open the meeting by allowing up to 15 minutes for questions and comments from members of the public.  As this section of our discussions is not covered by a pre-announced Agenda and we are unaware of what might be raised, it is useful to set out some guidance and standards of behaviour at the start to ensure this part of the meeting is conducted correctly.
I’d therefore like to remind members of the public that this section is limited to 15 minutes in total and that no one individual may speak for more than five minutes.
We ask that all matters are presented politely, in a measured manner and are focused and to the point.
Questions or comments should not:
1.    Contain offensive language or expressions.
2.    Divulge, or require the answer to divulge, confidential or exempt information.
3.    Repeat questions previously asked at earlier meetings unless there has been a material change of circumstances.
4.    Contain personal attacks on any Council member.
In the event that there is any offensive or unacceptable behaviour directed towards members of the Parish Council or indeed other members of the public, we will pause or stop the discussion as appropriate.
The Chairman's decision on the relevance of a question or comment and on the method of dealing with any issue in connection with this procedure will be final.
Members of the public should be made aware that while the Parish Council is not recording the meeting in audio or video format, other members of the public may be doing so.  This is outside our control as it is a public meeting.  We would request that anyone planning to record the meeting, as a courtesy, advise the meeting so that members of the public who do not wish to be recorded can notify whoever is recording.  Does anyone plan to record the meeting?  Does anyone wish not to be seen on any recording?
If you do not wish to be video recorded, I suggest you position yourself where you cannot be picked up by any camera.
I will now open for questions from members of the public."

It helps to set the tone and to establish the authority of the Chairman as the arbiter and enforcer.
by (53.7k points)

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