Opposition councillors stormed out of a meeting of Scarborough borough’s full council meeting today in protest following a row between the deputy leader of the Labour group and the Mayor.
Cllr Tony Randerson (Lab) started today’s meeting by trying to make a point of order over the council’s Mayor failing to call an extraordinary meeting of the authority.
Nine councillors had tried to call the meeting after former Conservative councillor, Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff, had been barred from attending meetings of the council under orders from chief executive Jim Dillon.
The call for the meeting was rejected, which Cllr Randerson said was a breach of rules set out in the Local Government Act.
As Cllr Randerson attempted to make a point of order to start today’s meeting he was stopped by the Mayor, Cllr Joe Plant (Con), who said it was “not a point of order”.
Following a loud exchange, Cllr Randerson called the decision not to allow him to raise the issue “disgusting” and left the meeting.
Labour group leader Cllr Steve Siddons said he too “had no choice” but to follow.
All bar three of the present Labour members followed, as did independents Roxanne Murphy and Sam Cross.
The meeting proceeded without them.
Cllr Donohue-Moncrieff, who now sits as an independent, took her place in the council chamber at today’s meeting.
She told the Mayor he had a “conflict of interest” and could not rule on the point of order.
In a statement, Cllr Randerson said: “Both the chief executive and the monitoring officer have repeatedly declined requests for sight of purported external legal advice, alleged by the chief executive to support his autonomous exclusion/disbarment of a councillor without reference to the Council’s Standards Committee.”
He added: “It hinges upon on the fundamental democratic principle that the mandate of the electorate is both sovereign and inviolate – not subject to the wishes and desires of any member of paid service whose function it is to serve councillors, not dictate to them.
“Today, in council, the chief executive has once again indicated that our intention – to achieve transparency and accountability, in the public interest, in respect of the chief executive’s actions, which now appear to be ultra vires (beyond authority) – is continuing to be thwarted. Clearly, this is unacceptable.
“For this reason, we vacated the meeting.”