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Standing Orders manipulated to achieve removal of a Councillor

0 votes
The Chair & Parish Clerk manipulated / violated  Standing Orders to achieve their Objective.

Standing Order was suspended March 2020 regarding attendance to ensure any Councillor unable to attend meetings during Pandemic was not penalised.
Standing Order was reinstated May 2020 despite rule 7 Stating any Resolution made cannot be changed or altered within 6 months.
In September the rule was applied to terminate a Councillor who had not been able to attend meetings from April to September. Note period retrospectively applied.They used non attendance  prior to the re introduction of rule in May

Note the Councillor had advised the Chair and Clerk in March that due to Disability they could not cope with Zoom meetings. A letter requesting reasonable adjustment sent, the response a stream of abuse from The Parish Clerk .

A letter sent to the Chair re the dismissal and statement that it violated the Standing Orders. A response received from The Parish Clerk justifying actions as legal, which I would add, is purely in The Clerks judgement.

My question where to next. Have contacted the MO who  tells me they do not deal with Parish Council procedural matters.
asked by (120 points)
edited by

5 Answers

+2 votes
Parish council meeting should still be on zoom ( currently until May 2021). As the  parish council do not pay expenses nobody can be forced to use zoom or the associated telephone link.
I am not convinced the action being taken against the councillor is appropriate given the circumstances and guidelines given out
answered by (1.7k points)
Zoom is a strongly recommended alternative to face-to-face meetings, but not a requirement. Several of my parishes are back to conventional meetings, as members and, in particular, the public, struggled with the technology.
DavetheClerk can I ask have you been asked to make ‘reasonable adjstments’.
Thank you for your comments.
Thank you Clerk Gable
How are you managing under the socially distance and rule of 6 Do you run a track and trace system.?
We simply took the view that with Councillors and members of the public unable to participate virtually and our village halls and community centres operating in a Covid-safe way, democracy was best served by meeting face-to-face.

The venues operate under the Covid guidelines, with social distancing procedures, deep clean, hand sanitiser and track and trace. Rule of 6 doesn't apply to meetings. As long as everybody follows the rules, the risk is minimal.
Take your point of view but as our halls can’t safely manage socially distance meeting we have to stay with zoom
0 votes
Refer this one to the local association of local councils. They might decide to challenge it. I'd also notify the elections officer at the principal council that section 85 has not been applied correctly and that the vacancy should not be advertised. Beyond that, you could inform the Electoral Commission, but I don't know whether they have a responsibility in such matters.

If all else fails, try the local press.
answered by (19.2k points)
0 votes

The principal Authority may say that they do not deal with "Parish Council procedural matters", but it seems that the Clerk/Chair have deliberately acted unconstitutionally to confer a disadvantage on another member.  That is arguably a  breach of several items of the model code of conduct, which is under the remit of the MO. You can report the MO to the Local govt Ombudsman for failing to deal with relevant investigations.  Before doing so I would re submit the complaint and apply the appropriate breaches of the code of conduct (Lack of Honesty, Integrity for example) to the terms of which the new complaint is based.  

answered by (14.7k points)
Thank you Graeme very interesting advice
0 votes
What needs to be checked of course is how the non attendance has been recorded in the minutes of the PC meetings and whether the councillors statement was recorded as their reason for being unable to attend. Also if the statement was produced was there a vote by councillors as to whether the non attendance was accepted by the council (not the clerk).Councillors should accept or reject any reason for non attendance at which an apology is received. I am sure that the PC has an obligation to ensure that everything is done so that a councillor is not penalised from attending by the meeting requirements of the council. If the councillor was wheelchair bound and the council decided to hold meetings on the fourth floor of a building without a lift then they would be responsible to do everything in their power to enable attendance by that councillor. If not they are in fact stopping an elected member from carrying out their duties they were elected to carry out.
answered by (3.6k points)
+2 votes
In addition to the sound advice already given, if the councillor in question does have a genuine disability as you have suggested, you may also want to check out the Equality and Diversity Act (2010) which is mandatory law. The act itself is available to read on-line but can be heavy going. Guidelines for the Act are provided by the Human Rights Commission and are much more readable, these HRC Guidelines are also available on-line.

You may also have your own E&D Policy as the majority of Parish and Town Councils should really have addressed this area by now, (ie 10 years on from Act becoming law)  if so your policy would need to be based around the basic discriminationary principles of the E&D Act itself so you may already have help with this within your own policies.
answered by (870 points)

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