Fuming councillors walk out of meeting in shared chief exec controversy - The Malvern Observer

Fuming councillors walk out of meeting in shared chief exec controversy

Malvern Editorial 30th Jul, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016   0

FUMING opposition councillors dramatically walked out of a meeting after the controlling Conservatives were allowed to change a major decision over letting outside candidates apply for the district council’s shared chief executive role.

In an extraordinary full council meeting at Malvern Hills District Council last night (Tuesday), councillors from the Liberal Democrat and the Democratic groups threatened legal action after a report for the meeting said the Conservatives wanted to amend a ‘minute’ from a previous meeting.

The controversy arose after the Conservative group said they wanted to overturn a decision – not a minute as stated – made from a previous meeting in June which passed through an amendment to open up the position to other candidates.

It came after the group found out letting outside candidates apply could lead to both councils incurring costs of £350,000 in redundancy payments and recruitment costs.

But the official wording of the report, stating what the council intended to do, was wrongly put and led to a fury of debate before it had to be voted to be amended.

Coun Anthony Warbuton, from the Democratic group, told council chairman Coun Mike Morgan amending a minute could not legally be done before handing him a four page document containing legal advice. Cries at the chamber heard ‘this will go to the courts in the morning’ from opposing councillors.

After much disagreement, Coun Morgan agreed to take a five minute break to allow more time to consider the situation. But after the break he made the decision to allow council leader David Hughes to cast a vote to amend the wording so they could then have a vote on the decision on the shared chief executive candidates.

When the vote to amend the wording was passed, fuming opposition councillors then opted to walk out in protest.

Before leaving the chamber leader of the Liberal Democrat group Coun Tom Wells said: “I am not persuaded at all by any of the comments made to address  this issue. It is very clear the motion before us states this council agrees the minute no 131 of 24 June be amended – perhaps the leader can be very clear and tell us what it is which is before us.

“I believe the substantive part of that motion is the ‘minute’. If u take that out then you’re taking the whole leaf of the sandwich out and  if this is no longer an amendment it would be an entirely a different motion, and it should be ruled out of order.

“On that basis for the first time in 20 years I am going to encourage my group to leave the room and we all join in.”

In remarkable scenes which saw the council chamber half empty, the controlling Conservatives then ruled not to let outside candidates apply for the shared chief executive role between Malvern Hills District Council and Wychavon District Council which was narrowly passed through in June.

Coun Hughes said: “I really do regret the decision of  the opposition groups to take the stance they have done, it is mischeivous. It is clear what we were trying to achieve tonight. I want to make it said on public record, to walk out of a meeting on an issue like this I think is absolutely disgraceful.”

Opposition councillors then returned to the chamber after the agenda item came to a close.

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