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What is the appropriate use of Section 1(2) of the public bodies (admission to meetings) act 1960?

0 votes
Our Parish Council frequently use Section 1(2) to exempt items from the public part of their meeting.  Recently there was a motion at the start of a meeting to move an item to the exempt meeting.  The item was discussion about correspondence with another public body and the reason given was that the correspondence was "open to misinterpretation".  One Cllr objected but was not supported and the item was moved.  The minutes report the Cllrs objection but not the reason given for the item being moved.  Was the reason stated, ie that the correspondence was "open to misinterpretation" a valid reason under the Act and should the minutes have recorded the reason given.

The agenda for the next full council meeting has now been posted and there is an item " To consider a new community asset opportunity" in Exempt business.  Should the council be providing more information in their agenda and an explanation as to how this item can be prejudicial to the public interest?  I have heard that some Cllrs are not aware of the details of this item.
asked by (120 points)

2 Answers

+2 votes
It sounds as though your council is over-using the power to exclude the press and public. The specific reasons permissible in this regard are listed in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972. Whatever reason is adopted, it must be clearly explained in the minutes.

On the face of it, if correspondence is open to misinterpretation, then care should be taken to ensure that it is fully and correctly explained in the meeting and the minutes thereof. If the community asset opportunity is subject to commercial confidentiality, perhaps because you are in competition with a neighbouring parish, there may be a case for exclusion of the press and public, but otherwise, it should be a public debate. Public support is normally a significant factor in the creation of community assets, so you'll struggle to show this if you hold your discussions behind closed doors.
answered by (26.3k points)
+2 votes
It is under the provisions of schedule 12 of the Local Govt Act 1972. It applies to items that are exempt or confidential and has to be subject to a resolution. It should be clear from the agenda papers why the exclusion is put to a resolution. Councils can't falsely apply it to avoid flak. There should be an explanation as to why it is judged prejudicial to the public interest, not an expectation that cllrs will just act like sheep and resolve it without question.
answered by (19.4k points)

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