WTC: A U-Turn Goes Around The U-Bend
- an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on electoral chaos and pandemonium at Whitby Town (Parish) Council. Business as usual.
The 2015 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Whitby Town (Parish) Council was held on Tuesday 19th May 2015.
The Agenda contained two Items of interest; Items 10 and 11:
On a recorded vote, a Motion in favour of co-option, proposed by Councillor John DICKINSON and seconded by Councillor Noreen “You can shove your camera up your arse” WILSON, was defeated eight votes to four, with no abstentions.
Only Councillor Rebecca “Homeless” PEARSON and Mayor Councillor Heather COUGHLAN joined the Proposer and Seconder in support of the Motion, which was not carried (as shown on the Minutes, below).
The defeated Motion was immediately followed by a further Motion, moved by Councillor Phil TRUMPER and seconded by Councillor Ian HAVELOCK, seeking to revisit the preceding Motion with a view to amending its purpose. (See above).
How this Motion could ever have been accepted, much less Resolved, defies comprehension – the reason being that Article 11 of the Council’s Standing Orders strictly prohibits the reversal of a prior Resolution (whether affirmative or negative – as in the present case) for a period of six months (not six minutes, for heaven’s sake!) unless 10 Councillors serve written notice.
Since there are presently only 12 WTC Councillors, eight of whom had just voted AGAINST co-option and were thereby on the record as opposing co-option, it is unsurprising that the required ten signatures were not forthcoming.
Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s Motion was therefore irrefutably invalid – not a very impressive opening gambit from our fledgling Borough Councillor.
It is the duty of Town Clerk Mrs Pam DOBSON to advise Councillors on the legality of their actions. It was the Clerk’s duty and responsibility, therefore, to instruct the Council that Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s Motion was invalid.
Granting Pam DOBSON the benefit of any doubt, let us provisionally accept that Article 11 of the Standing Orders had somehow slipped her mind. Her correct course of action, after the fact, was to raise the matter of the invalidity of Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s Motion at the next meeting – on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 – so that the Draft Minutes could be amended to reflect the invalidity of Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s Motion.
Unfortunately (for the Clerk), the Agenda for the 2nd June 2015 meeting includes Item 11(a), which calls upon the Council to set in stone the Minutes of the Annual Meeting – including Minute (009/15) containing Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s invalid Motion (see above), with no provision for the necessary amendment.
Needless to say, the Council did indeed vote in favour of confirming the AGM Minutes as an accurate record, including the invalid Motion – and, in so doing, provided irrefutable evidence of the fact that the Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s was moved and carried in contravention of the Council’s Standing Orders. The Motion cannot stand.
The significance of all this is that the Resolution defeating Councillor John DICKINSON’s motion – “that the town Council moves forward to Co-option” – remains valid and is in no way modified by Councillor Phil TRUMPER’s invalid Motion.
Therefore, the Council cannot “move forward to Co-option” unless and until it resolves to do so six months into the future – specifically, NOT BEFORE 19th November 2015. This will be a huge disappointment to certain cronies, lickspittles and hangers-on who have been champing at the bit to join this rudderless ship of state we know as WTC – without offering themselves up to the will of the people.
So the Council will continue with only twelve of its nineteen seats occupied until the by-election on 30th July 2015 for the casual vacancy in the West Cliff ward (brought about by former-Councillor Derek ROBINSON’s laudable decision to decline to take up his seat on grounds that he is unwilling to serve the people of Whitby without having first gained their electoral support) takes place.
Regular readers will recall that Derek ROBINSON announced his intention NOT to serve on WTC without a mandate in an Open Letter to the people of Whitby, published here on the Enquirer on 28th April 2015 – one week before the election.
The SBC Returning Officer Jim DILLON has announced that a by-election will be held on Thursday 30th July 2015.
This form of words suggests that the Returning Officer intends to use the 30th July 2015 by-election to fill ONLY ONE of the two vacant seats in West Cliff ward – specifically, Derek ROBINSON’s unclaimed seat – but not the other vacant seat in the West Cliff ward (which resulted from the fact that only three Nominations were received for the four-Councillor ward), or indeed any of the other five vacancies throughout other wards of the Parish.
Consequently, providing that there are at least two valid Nominations for the casual vacancy, a ballot will be held on Thursday 30th July 2015, and Whitby Town (Parish) Council will be able to claim that one of its nineteen seats is occupied by a Councillor whom the electorate has actually provided a mandate for representation – a 5¼%-democratic Council.
If there should be only one valid Nomination, a Councillor will be ‘elected unopposed’ and the Council will continue to operate with no democratic mandate whatsoever – a 0%-democratic Council.
If there are no valid Nominations, the seat will remain vacant and the Council will continue to operate with only 12 (of a possible 19) seats occupied, though none of the 12 enjoys a mandate – also a 0%-democratic Council.
Of course, the second vacant seat in West Cliff could be included in the ballot at zero extra cost, so it is difficult to accept that Jim DILLON’s decision serves democracy in any way, depriving the people of Whitby of the possibility to increase its mandate to a 10½%-democratic Council – thus elevating itself to the exemplary democratic standard of (say) a tin-pot, third-world banana republic.
Members of the public who live in the Parish (or within 4.82km – three miles) of the Parish Boundary are eligible to stand in the by-election, providing that they comply with the necessary qualifications for election. To do so, they will need to complete the necessary documentation and submit it by hand to the Returning Officer.
Nomination packs may be downloaded here.
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