Police called to row at Hemsworth Town Council meeting

POLICE were called to a town council meeting when an argument broke out between councillors.

Saturday, 11th August 2012, 4:00 pm

The Hemsworth Town Council meeting on Tuesday, July 31, was adjourned following the row that caused outrage in the public gallery.

The incident arose when independent town councillor Jim Kenyon began questioning a record of the minutes for a recent meeting of the council’s finance committee.

Such records are put before the council to approve at the meeting, or they can request for items in those minutes to be looked at again by the appropriate committee.

The details of the minutes are issued to councillors several days before the meeting.

Coun Kenyon questioned the reasons for a £1,000 grant issued by the council to the Frickley Foxes FC - a football club for people with learning difficulties.

The councillor for the East ward asked if the council was then charging the football club pitch fees.

But Coun Tony Upson, chairman of the town council, sought for Coun Kenyon to be excluded from the meeting for being disruptive.

This sparked outraged shouts of “disgusting” from the public and when Coun Kenyon refused to leave the meeting was adjourned and police were called.

Coun Kenyon, who is not on the finance committee, said: “I asked how much the pitch fees were going to be because it’s ridiculous if we’re giving them this grant and then taking two or three hundred back off them.

“I am an elected member of this council and I am entitled to ask where our money is being spent.”

The meeting was adjourned for around half an hour before being reopened and postponed for another date that is yet to be confirmed.

Speaking during the adjournment, Ernest Evans, a local resident in the public gallery, said: “He is our elected member for the east ward and he’s not allowed on the finance committee and now they’re stopping him asking finance questions at the general meeting - it’s an absolute disgrace.”

But a statement from the town council said that is against the law to have a debate about the minutes of other council committees at general meetings.

It said: “It is unlawful to vote on an item not specifically on the meeting agenda and councillors have been repeatedly made aware of this.

“Councillors are allowed to ask questions for information but they cannot turn that into a debate to challenge a decision unless the item is on the meeting agenda.

“Coun Kenyon was repeatedly warned that his attempts to broaden information requests into debates were disrupting the meeting.

“He continually over-talked the chair who was left with no other option than to seek his exclusion from the meeting. The meeting was adjourned because he refused to leave the meeting and members of the public were obviously agitated.”

The council said the police were called because Coun Kenyon had refused to follow procedure and leave the meeting.