December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
A little-used and almost-forgotten rule has been triggered to block a move to make a new council committee politically-balanced.
Labour party councillors were furious after Conservatives on Felixstowe Town Council used their majority to ensure the authority’s personnel committee comprised only the mayor, deputy mayor and chairman and vice chairman of its main committee.
Labour councillor Kimberley Williams, an experienced solicitor and who runs her own management consultancy, had sought election to the new group because she wanted to use her extensive experience in human resources, but was refused.
Fresh hope arose as Conservative councillor Mike Stokell spoke out at full council and said he believed the personnel committee should have councillors from both parties, as do all other council committees.
But the amendment tabled failed to even reach a vote as interim town clerk Gordon Mussett said that standing orders – the council’s rulebook – prevented councillors from reversing any decision they had taken within six months of making it.
The only way round the issue was for a special resolution signed by six councillors to be put before the council.
This has to be done before the agenda is published and could now not happen until the November 20 meeting.
Ms Williams had accused her political opponents of trying to “sideline” her by not letting her join the personnel committee.
She said: “I would ask whether councillors around this table have had time to reflect and would now consider whether the decision to exclude me was in the best interests of this council or the people of Felixstowe.”
Mr Stokell said: “To have a committee which is not politically-balanced would not be allowed at the county or district council and I think it needs to be looked into.
“It is how a democratic council chamber should work and I cannot see any reason at all why this should not be supported by the Conservative group.”
Mayor Jan Garfield said the composition of the committee had not been a political issue and it was agreed appointing those who already held senior posts within the council would be acceptable to the council as a whole.
She said: “These positions will not change and may in the future be held by Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats or Green – it was the offices of the council considered, not particular people.”