Minutes row after walk-out from meeting

Minutes questions: Wyre civic centre and (below) Coun Paul Treece Birch
Minutes questions: Wyre civic centre and (below) Coun Paul Treece Birch
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Concern has been raised over why official minutes of a fiery clash between councillors make no mention of a walk-out by dozens of councillors which halted the public meeting.

The last meeting of Wyre full council was abandoned after less than 25 minutes after a row erupted between the mayor, Labour Coun Ron Shewan, and members of the authority’s cabinet, all Conservative members.

Councillor Paul Treece-Birch, of Fleetwood Town Council.

Councillor Paul Treece-Birch, of Fleetwood Town Council.

The mayor had said a notice of motion proposed by a cabinet member challenging an order he had made went against the council’s constitution, in challenging the mayor, and therefore could not be debated.

Wyre’s majority Conservative group then walked out of the meeting in protest, saying they were having their free speech stifled.

But minutes published by the authority only read: “At 7.16pm the Council resolved...to adjourn the meeting for a short period.

“At 7.22pm the Mayor re-entered the Chamber to re-commence the meeting but, as only 12 members remained present...the meeting was immediately adjourned.”

Coun Paul Treece-Birch, a Labour councillor, for Warren ward, said the walk-out should have been recorded officially.

He said: “It’s a skewing of what happened.

“The council didn’t resolve anything, the Conservatives stormed out.

“I realise the minutes shouldn’t be verbatim but sometimes they don’t seem right. It should be explained why the meeting didn’t continue.”

The council’s Conservative leader said that minutes from the meeting are not verbatim but rather a guide to the meeting.

Coun Peter Gibson said: “They’re not verbatim minutes, they’re just an indication of what happened.

“It’s just the way officers do things, they sometimes think they have to have a balanced view.”

Coun Gibson defended the walk-out and moved to reassure residents concerned about decision making, saying there was nothing “of major importance” on the agenda.

He added: “There was nothing critical in this meeting, nothing that needed to be voted on, nothing of major importance.

“All those items will come back on the agenda in January, they have not been forgotten about.”

The collapse of the meeting on November 27 meant items for discussion and decisions to be made on have been deferred by six weeks.

Coun Treece-Birch said: “Those items should have been discussed. I was ready to discuss [items], they were important, and that was taken out of our hands.

“I hope all this will be resolved and we can continue with council business.”

The next full council meeting of Wyre, to be held on January 22, will see councillors deciding whether to approve the minutes as a “correct record”.