Following the recent local elections, Bradley Stoke Town Council welcomed four new members at the new administration’s annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday 15th May.
But the presence of one new Labour member and two independents seemed to have rattled the majority Conservative group, which had enjoyed the luxury of holding all 15 seats on the council during the previous eight years.
Signs that everything was not going to be plain sailing emerged even before the meeting had started, with one of the new Conservatives suggesting that it wouldn’t be appropriate for party colleagues to appear alongside the sole Labour member in a ‘new faces’ photo for the Journal.
The theme continued once the meeting got under way, with veteran Conservative councillor Roger Avenin calling for proportional representation along party lines to be observed in the allocation of members to each of the council’s three committees. The request was ruled inadmissible by the town clerk who pointed out that there is no such requirement within the council’s standing orders (rule book). This cleared the way for the three non-Conservative members to each volunteer to sit on all three committees.
Later in the meeting, the persistent Cllr Avenin raised the matter of proportionality again, suggesting that standing orders should be amended to incorporate this, as well as fixing the size of each committee. When the town clerk remarked that “most parish council aren’t operated along party lines and that’s how it should be,” she received a swift rebuke from another councillor, John Ashe (Conservative), who said it wasn’t her place to express opinions.
Officers were asked to report back to the next meeting with regard to the points raised.
Photo: 1 The three new Conservative members (l-r) – Michael Hill, Nikki Hallur and Ed Rose. 2 New Labour member Fabrizio Fazzino.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 17). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Update (25th June 2019)
A report produced for the meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 26th June 2019 states:
Councillors have therefore sought advice from the South Gloucestershire Council monitoring officer, who has explained that, whilst it is not mandatory for town and parish councils to adopt proportionality, it would be appropriate for a fair method of representation to be adopted that encompasses all parties.
It is therefore suggested that the following wording be added to the BSTC Standing Order 42 (Committees and Sub-committees):
Where the town council is comprised of councillors from all or several different parties then each committee or sub-committee should consist of a greater number of councillors from the majority party in order to reflect results of council elections held.
Corrections and clarifications
In the original version of the above article, we stated that Cllr Roger Avenin had rebuked the town clerk for expressing a personal opinion during a debate.
Some weeks after the article appeared, Cllr Avenin submitted a formal complaint claiming that this particular aspect of our report was inaccurate.
After making enquiries with other councillors present at the meeting, we are happy to correct our account of the dialogue by stating that it was in fact Cllr John Ashe who issued the rebuke to the town clerk.
A notice to the above effect was printed on page 19 of the September issue of our magazine and the website article above has been amended accordingly.
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