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+1 vote
We have a locum clerk who has introduced a vexatious policy, because I questioned her over the posting of agendas she has banned me from attending any parish council meetings which she then found out she could not do but she has now banned me from asking any questions at a meeting, she says that she has blocked my email address and that I should not contact any Councillor, I personally find this way OTT, it seems like a gagging order and has put a brick wall around the PC which should be open and transparent and a parishioner should have the right to ask questions in an orderly way, just because the clerk doesn't like be questioned should not give her the right to take this course of action, your thoughts please
by (460 points)

3 Answers

0 votes
To cut to the chase - the clerk has no authority to do any of this.  Members of the public have a lawful right to attend council meetings.  They have no automatic right to speak at meetings although it is usual that they may ask questions at the invitation of the Chairman.
by (10.3k points)
Thanks, because the locum clerk (@£38ph) has introduced this policy the chair, who’s only been chair for four months took her advice and would not let me ask a question
0 votes
A clerk should not dictate council procedure - only a council does that.
That said, you can only be “banned” from attending a public council meeting by means of a Court order not by a clerk or a council.
Similarly, you cannot be unilaterally banned from attending or asking valid questions at a council meeting.
They might choose not to answer you but they cannot prevent you speaking if there is an open public session.
If the clerk is intervening and dominating an inexperienced or under confident chair you could just over speak and ignore the clerk - they have no authority to dominate a council meeting.
Just stand up - speak up and be more confident than the clerk and the chair. State your business but don’t expect a response.
by (21.7k points)
From LTN 5 Standing orders may confirm that public participation at a meeting is
restricted to items of business on the agenda
For Arnie - my opening sentence was:

"...A clerk should not dictate council procedure - only a council does that...."  in that sentence is the essence of the reference I think you mean which is LTN 5E para 42 which states:

"...Standing orders may confirm that public participation at a meeting is restricted to items of business on the agenda for the meeting..."
So SOs MAY contain a section which restricts public questions to items on the agenda (ie the council has adopted that policy position rather than the clerk (or as in this case a locum clerk)) but they may equally NOT.

FWIW, I consider this position that the public may only address questions in relation to items of business which are on the agenda to be exceptionally poorly considered (not that it HAS to be adopted of course - it is just a part of a suggested template for SOs which the council may adapt) and to do so is indicative of a council that has failed to grasp the fact that an open public meeting is probably one of, it not the best opportunity, to actually engage with Joe Public.
Anyway - my point was, a single individual cannot be singled out for punitive restrictions at a public meeting.  The entire body of press and public may be excluded (if so resolved) but a single person may not so be.

LTN 5E para 30:

"...It is not lawful to exclude some of the public or the press. The exclusion must apply to all..."
0 votes
the council may have a vexatious policy that may have been invoked but even so I don't think they can stop you attending a public meeting or speaking in the public forum.  the question is, if the the council is doing this, what can be done about it? submit a complaint to the council?
by (1.7k points)
Hi, no they can’t stop me attending a meeting unless there was something like a police order not to be that close to a particular person which there isn’t, this has been implemented by the locum clerk and the rest have followed like sheep, I was chair at one time but a few banged up on me and blackmailed me to stand down, I have reported that to the police.
Unfortunately there are several most unpleasant people on the council now and a few in it for their own good, one is a local developer who has not objected to one single planning application and it’s obvious why, I don’t want to be a part of that so I stood down completely, I questioned the clerk over two items proving her wrong on one and she did not like that and that’s when she brought in this ridiculous policy, I did go to ask a question and was told I could not by the chair, I felt this was wrong of him so have put in a coc complaint to our local district council, they are trying to avoid any awkward questions but the pc should be open to question from the public or so I think

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