Can I discuss in public the procedure in an in camera meeting

0 votes
After our main meeting we  had an in camera meeting to discuss a lease and loan to a CIC. Our Chairman was adamant that a heads of terms document was a lease and I stated that we could not approve the lease from this document and that we would need to approve the final lease when agreed. This was not accepted and I left the meeting leaving it inquorate.

My question is, can I discuss the views of the Chairman, that I believe to be incorrect, providing I do so without giving any details regarding the documents we were debating?
asked by (140 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
What is an "In camera" meeting? All meetings should be notified with 3 clear days notice in a prominent public place and on your website, and there should be a published agenda.  The public must not be excluded without a resolution which should refer to the appropriate item in Schedule 12 of the Local Govt Act 1972.  I agree that heads of terms form the basis of an agreement but are not the entire finalised agreement.  You have a duty as a Cllr to ensure your Parish Council acts lawfully and in the Public Interest. Unless the lease is subject to a confidentiality agreement or contains information your council have resolved is confidential, it should be permissable to discuss it in the public domain.  The Chairman might have a casting vote but he does not have the power to make unilateral decisions by a chairman's decree.
answered by (6.5k points)
Thanks Graeme
An in camera meeting is one where the members have resolved that the issue should debated confidentially. My question can I discuss in public the views of the Chairman  provided that I do not disclose the content of the documents. Do you have any ideas?
Well does your Council have a media or social media policy?  It might stipulate that you don't comment on social media about it. In all honesty if you breached it the principal authority monitoring officer might tell you off but could do little more. A nasty chair might accuse you of being in breach of the model code of conduct. Why not ask the Monitoring officer in advance about the issue? If I was in your position I would set up a blog and post it there rather than Twitter or Facebook. If the chair is pressuring members to do as he says that would get my hackles up and make me keener to let the public know!
0 votes
This is a question of judgement, there is no black and white answer. The council agreed to exclude the public, and you have to consider the reason for this. Was it commercial confidentiality? Was that justified?

If a decision was made, then it must be minuted and the minutes are available for inspection by the public. The minutes may avoid going into detail, but must identify the fact that a decision was made and give a clear indication of what it was. Without that, the decision was effectively not made.

There is, thus, a limit on what is confidential, and you are entitled to review just what exactly the council is seeking to keep confidential. If you were to go public on issues that the council had good reason to keep confidential, then you would be in the wrong. But if you discuss matters that are more general than the information the council sought to keep confidential, or you judge that the council was being unreasonably secretive, then you would be in the right.
answered by (27.1k points)

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