Is it the Chairman's role to ensure proceedings are legal?

0 votes
Is it the Chairman's Role to  make sure it's proceedings are legal and being the public face of the Council should also make sure it maintains public trust by upholding standards of integrity?
Specifically, is it acceptable for the Chairman, at a full council meeting attended by the press,  to accuse a Co-opted member without a vote of having an interest and that they should have left a previous committee meeting?

I understood that all councillors were equal and apart from having a casting vote, if required, in addition to the original vote and ensuring a meeting is run smoothly and fairly the Chair had little more than a figurehead position.  I believe it is up to the individual councillor to decide if they need to declare an interest or not. If anyone, including fellow councillors and the Chairman, believe a councillor has breached the Code of Conduct then the complaint should be made to the District Council resonsible officer.
asked by (140 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
All councillors should aim to ensure council proceedings are lawful, although the clerk is the best qualified to advise, or intervene if necessary. Although the chair is often the most visible councillor, they have no authority to make decisions and  should only represent the council in respect of policies or decisions decided on by the council.

I'm not sure why a co-opted member would be without a vote. In any case, you are right that it is not the job of any councillor (including the chair) to police other councillors. As you say, anyone, including councillors, can make a complaint to the Monitoring Officer. So I would agree that it is the responsibility of each councillor to decide about interests.

I'm not sure that it is necessarily wrong for councillors to point out a known conflict, or to remark on the general principles governing personal interests. Although if this is done, it should be done tactfully.  But none of them, including the chair, have any authority to rule on such matters.
answered by (25.2k points)
Thanks Counterpoint. I think we're singing from the same hymn sheet.  The person was co-opted to just one committee and not the full council hence no vote.  I thought it was most unfortunate that the Chair suggested at a full council meeting attended by press (with the co-opted member I've mentioned also attending as a member of the public) that the member co-opted to a committee should have declared an interest and left the room when my understanding, as yours, was that he didn't have to.
A member usually refers to a Councillor, whether elected or co opted and a member by definition is a  member of a council  and can attend and vote at full council meetings. Your comment that "the person was co opted to one committee, not full council does not make sense. Was the person not co opted as a councillor but invited to serve as a non councillor attendee of a committee.  In which case he/she should not have a vote but would not have to declare an interest either.
Exactly that - he was co-opted to advise on the planning committee and the neighbourhood plan advisory board, so is not a member of council and has not vote. He had no vote and therefore was not required to declare an interest but the Chairman stood at the beginning of a full council meeting attended by the press and this non-member in the 'audience' and said he thought this non-voting person should have declared an interest.
0 votes
The Chair has a statutory duty to manage/control or "Chair" full meetings of a Town or Parish Council in accordance with the business to be transacted on the agenda.   If the agenda includes declarations of interest and a  Chair suspects that other members may be with holding any he/she is entitled in my view to ask the members to confirm or deny as such. The responsibility for legal compliance falls on all members of the Council and they should ask the Clerk for advice in that matter.  Co opted members do not have reduced rights compared to those with an electoral mandate.
answered by (1.5k points)

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