A MYSTERY has been solved over how ‘strange errors’ appeared in the draft of the Cheshire West and Chester Council constitution.
The last full council had been due to rubber-stamp constitutional changes but puzzled Tory councillor Gareth Anderson, a member of the cross-party constitutional working group, asked for the agenda item to be withdrawn at the last minute.
He said the draft contained ‘strange errors’ including a proposal that in future a two thirds majority of the council would be needed to remove the leader from office.
There was a new requirement that members of the public wishing to speak at a meeting should submit details three days in advance.
Suspicions were aroused because at that moment Tory council leader Mike Jones was under political pressure after the failure of his business which led angry creditors to turn up unannounced to speak at meetings.
But The Chronicle has now been provided with emails under the Freedom of Information Act in which CWaC solicitor Daniel Dickinson conceded he had ‘erroneously’ inserted the two-third voting requirement.
He explained the requirement for members of the public to give three days’ notice of their intention to speak was because ‘most bonafide public questioners would comply with a request to give notice’.
Mr Dickinson alleged only those intent on ‘ambushing’ the committee or a councillor, gaining publicity or asking a question outside the rules would not give notice.
A final concern had been raised about a ban on members of the public filming meetings although this is actually contained in the current constitution despite government guidance recommending it be allowed.
Mr Dickinson said a ban on filming was the best starting point so that the council could ‘control’ what was broadcast through its own webcast.