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12:50pm Tuesday 10th September 2013 in Letters
ALMOST any Malvern resident can speak out at a Malvern Hills District Council public meeting where they feel there have been errors of judgement or wish to whistle-blow (as they see it), but if you are a town or parish councillor, beware!
A town or parish councillor can speak in that capacity and run the risk of being called before the Malvern council’s dominated standards committee, the chairman of that public meeting can can even insist that they stop speaking.
If the councillor were to register to speak as, say “Mr” (rather than Councillor), you might think that he/she could speak freely, without a risk of being referred to the standards committee, but you would be wrong.
If “Mr” were in the midst of whistle-blowing (as he/she sees it) and someone from the council’s top table were to interrupt with words similar to “I would remind the councillor to.....”, then he/she has been identified to the meeting as a councillor, unless “Mr”
corrects the top table to state “I am here speaking as a member of the public”, the very fact that he/she has not said words to that effect is currently judged by the standards committee as subject to standards committee judgement.
I fail to see why the right of any Malvern resident to speak out at a meeting should be denied to anyone elected to the town or a parish council.
After all, the district council’s span of control overshadows those of the little councils where councillors work for free.
How can it be legitimate or fair that the individual’s right to speak can have a steel gag hovering above its head in the shape of atandards committee complaint referral.
MARTIN LAWRENCE Malvern
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