The North East Party, formed just six months ago, last night won its second seat on Peterlee Town Council in two months.
Newly-elected councillor Karen Hawley comfortably won the Passfield Ward by-election with 429 votes, ahead of Labour on 257.
Cllr Hawley said:
“I am delighted to have been elected tonight and to be joining North East Party colleagues in working to ensure that Peterlee Town Council serves the people of Passfield ward and the people of the town accountably and well”.
The by-election, brought about by the resignation of Peterlee’s mayoress Cllr Margaret Milsom who held the seat for Labour, follows the North East Party’s victory at the Eden Hill ward by-election in December.
It means the party now holds two seats alongside six Independents on the 22-member authority, which remains in Labour control.
Susan McDonnell, the North East Party’s Parliamentary candidate for Easington, said:
“This is another resounding victory for the North East Party in Peterlee, building on our first success only two months ago.
“Her win tonight shows that our messages about scandalous Council Tax levels and the need for much greater community accountability of all elected politicians is really getting through.”
Source – Northern Echo, 13 Feb 2015
Councillors have been slammed for walking out of a meeting – because a member of the public was filming proceedings.
Members of the Labour-controlled Hetton Town Council walked out of October’s monthly meeting after Kay Rowham started videoing it on her iPad.
The retired IT and telecoms worker took advantage of new Parliamentary legislation, signed by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles in August, that anyone can record, film or tweet from public meetings of local government bodies.
However, her actions sparked a mass exit and now councillors have been told “democracy cannot live behind closed doors” by a council watchdog.
“I go to most of the meetings and I’ve just got a new iPad,” said Mrs Rowham, of Hetton. “When the rules changed, the town clerk advised members of it and I believe they all got copies.
“I did take a paper copy with me just in case, because they are not very public friendly. I go every month and I take notes, just to keep an eye on them.”
Mrs Rowham, who received 25 per cent of votes as a UKIP candidate in the May city council election for Doxford ward, started filming four minutes into the meeting.
She then posted the 12-minute, eight-second clip on video-sharing website YouTube under the name KittyKat.
“From the moment I started, a couple of the councillors looked at me, saying ‘look, she’s recording it’,” she said.
“There was nothing contentious going on. You could see they got uncomfortable and asked me to stop filming. They refused to carry on the meeting while I was filming.
“Coun Anderson said they should call the police. We weren’t being disruptive, it was the councillors causing the uproar.”
On the footage, town clerk John Price can be heard trying to explain to members that the council has to make the provision to allow filming
Despite this, Mayor Tony Wilkinson suspended the meeting, saying: “My ruling is that there shall be no recording until such a time that this is adopted by this council.”
In an explanation of the legislation, the Government website at http://www.gov.uk states:
“The new law aims to end active resistance amongst some councils to greater openness.
“Councils have even called the police to arrest people who tried to report, tweet or film council meetings, or claimed spurious ‘health and safety’ or ‘reputational risks’ to digital reporting.”
Coun Keith Hepple, leader of Hetton Town Council, said:
“The town council meeting on Monday, October 20, 2014, was suspended by the Mayor due to disruptive behaviour by a person.
“This was whilst discussing another issue. The town council is adopting a similar policy and procedure to meet the new legislation and whereby meetings can be recorded and filmed.
“Guidance has been taken from the National Association of Local Councils and their guidelines, and from discussions with other neighbouring local authorities, to ensure the council or its committees will be fully aware of the requirements and constraints of such.”
A spokesman for Labour North said: “This is a matter for the town council to look into under their complaints procedure and not for the Labour Party.”
Source – Sunderland Echo, 05 Nov 2014
A councillor has called for restrictions on decisions taken under delegated powers by Berwick Town Council.
Councillor Georgina Hill feels it is an important pillar in her drive for the council to be more open and transparent in its business.
Speaking at full council, she said: “This council will not be able to move forward in a positive way until there is a recognition that mistakes have been made in the past and things need to change.
“We need to be more open and transparent in everything we do. We need more robust systems and safeguards in place. And we need to move decisively away from a culture where all the meaningful discussions take place by a select few in the town council office and then are presented in such a way as to go through “on the nod” at council meetings, where the devil and the lack of detail is contained well within council documents.
“Above all else, we need more scrutiny and accountability especially when it comes to spending public money.”
She was particularly concerned at the ‘unlawful’ decision of the staffing sub-committee to ratify the spending of £1,500 public money to threaten legal action over her blog.
“It is entirely inappropriate for these members, who are personally embarrassed by my revelations on Facebook, to use public money to advance their own interests,” she said.
However, her proposal that the town council does not authorise spending of council funds on external solicitors where expenditure exceeds £250, without the express authority of the finance committee, was defeated. Instead, an amendment for the matter to go the finance strategy group was carried.
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 01 Aug 2014
> UKIP’s much vaunted assault on the North east gets off to a poor start… don’t snigger.
The UK Independence Party was heavily defeated in last night’s Yarm Town Council elections – despite the arrival of party leader Nigel Farage for a meet-and-greet the day before the poll.
The UKIP leader had promised during Wednesday’s visit that the North-east would return a Ukip MEP in next month’s Euro elections.
And he added that more councillors would be joining Teesside’s only Ukip councillor – Stockton Council’s Mark Chatburn.
Mr Chatburn defected from the Conservative party in September and later quit Yarm Town Council.
He was among ran nine candidates to run for the three seats up for grabs in yesterday’s Yarm Town Council election.
Mr Chatburn finished eighth with 368 votes.
Seven ballot papers were rejected. A total of 2,041 were issued – a turnout of 30.24%.
Results in full
Lorraine Meakin (Yarm Residents Association) – 1,110 Elected
Martin William Kenefec (Yarm Residents Association) – 1,036 Elected
William James Wilkinson (Yarm Residents Association) – 976 Elected
Carole Jones (Yarm Independent Association) – 636
Fred Holmes (Yarm Independent Association) – 623
Paddy Morton (Yarm Independent Association) – 441
Tom Reay (UKIP) – 385
Mark Chatburn (UKIP) – 368
Mandy Boylett (UKIP) – 322
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette 25 April 2014