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Is it lawful to block members of the public standing to fill casual vacancies while parish councils meet by zoom?

0 votes
asked by (120 points)

4 Answers

0 votes
If an application Form has been submitted by the individual, a vote Should take place to co-opt does not have to be done in Public. Not all Councillors/ parishioners have The ability to access to zoom and a council needs to be careful not to discriminate.

There should be a cooption policy within  the council
answered by (1.7k points)
Surely the public have a right to observe the co-option of someone who is going to represent them?

Not all parishioners are able to access Zoom, but equally not all parishioners are able to get to a venue.
One of our local parish councils recently co-opted 2 new members using Zoom, and 2 new members using online voting forms.  The online form-voting excluded the public, despite the council's co-option policy stating that co-options will take place at ordinary or extraordinary meetings.  One of these co-options was the spouse of the Chair.  What sort of message does that send to the public?
0 votes
You have to look at the history of the number of councillors on the council and the number of vacancies. If the council is continually running below par then it is normal for related people to join as they are more prepared to get involved.

Look at the previous elections- do the number of nominations outweigh the positions. How many elections have taken place without councillors just slotting in to vacancies

Often people in the community will be very quick to say they will stand when they are in a crowd and have a hot topic on their minds (especially in the local pub at a social event)  but actually never follow through in putting their names forward.

Don’t ever run down volunteers as more hands make light work especially when it comes to project work.

I have worked with many councils who have husband and wife teams and it can work well. Believe me they don’t always agree!
answered by (1.7k points)
+1 vote
Sadly Yes. Town & Parish Councils are empowered to enact any co option process they choose.  That said it should be documented in their S.O's or a co option policy or procedure should be in force.
answered by (14.7k points)
If a co-option policy/procedure is in force and has not been followed, what can be done if it has been raised with the Clerk and they have taken no action?  The same question applies to the SO's.
A referral to the 'I'm not in the slightest bit interested in your concerns' Monitoring Officer?
Yes, but if the MO fails to respond, he/she can be reported to your Local Govt Ombudsman.
Not in SO's decision made at a barely quarate PC meeting.
0 votes
I refer back to one of the other comments, Covid has made some policies redundant at the moment. We have had to change or adapt many of our policies.
My question would be if you have a cooption at a normal face to face meeting and the only resident that turned up was the co-optee would you not go ahead with the co-option because no members of the public are present. The answer is no because the vote is between the councillors only,   It does not have to take place in the public forum or indeed at a meeting. It does have to be recorded at the next meeting.

Furthermore a monitoring officer would only look at the history of previous cooptions and the number of vacancies the council carries. The election officer decides whether it is cooption or election.

There are a couple of threads coving the same topic and it does appear that some individuals (who appear to be either related or in league with each other)  are looking for a different answer that quite honestly I don’t think they are going to obtain
answered by (1.7k points)
Thank you. It does seem very odd to me that a PC with several perpetual vacancies can vote to not to co-opt any names sunmitted because of C-19 and Zoom proceedings. As has been said there are frequently no members of the public present, so it is only the councillors present who decide. It is necessary to keep scrutiny focused on anything that tends to diminish democracy.
It is very easy to make judgement for individuals and indeed this forum without knowing the full facts of the case, there could be a very legitimate reason that the parish council would not be able to disclose to outsiders such as bankruptcy etc. The councillors are guided by confidentially and GDPR.
With regard to the Q&A, within your answer, (Clerk Gable):
 "If you have a cooption at a normal face to face meeting and the only resident that turned up was the co-optee would you not go ahead with the co-option because no members of the public are present. The answer is no because the vote is between the councillors only,   It does not have to take place in the public forum or indeed at a meeting."
 
My response is, that giving the public an opportunity to attend and the public then choosing not to attend (apart from the co-optee), is different to giving the public no choice at all and doing things in secret.

Also, if an individual shares similar views to someone else, no matter how many threads there are covering the same topic, it doesn't infer that they are 'related or in league with each other'!
This is an excellent forum with many questions asked, covering a wide variety of topics.  Responses are given by people from various backgrounds with different levels of knowledge and experience, who may or may not know each other.  It is a very useful resource, and I thank the many knowledgeable people on here for that.

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