‘Growing problems’ with town council see public call for urgent meeting

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 October 2018

Portishead Folk Hall. Picture: Google

Portishead Folk Hall. Picture: Google

Google

Frustrated voters have called a public meeting to air concerns about the way in which the Portishead Town Council operates.

A parish meeting will be held next month due to increasing disappointment from some members of the public.

It was called for by 17 attendees of last week’s town council meeting.

Critics say changes to the way meetings are run – and particularly public participation – are ‘undemocratic’.

Chairman Peter Mitchell and other members however refute the accusation.

Paul Gardner, of Portishead Independents, said a move to restrict what the public could say to the town council to simply what is on the meeting’s agenda, was the final straw.

He cited public discontent over the postponed annual residents’ meeting in the spring and the concerns of people not being fully acted on.

Mr Gardner said: “Time and time again residents of Portishead have tried to engage with the town council in a measured and constructive way and have been repeatedly told that the council is just not interested.

“We have reluctantly called for this meeting because we believe that this town desperately needs a more open council and that by coming together for a day hosted by an independent chairman we can find a solution to this growing problem.”

The request was made on October 10 and the town council had 28 days to respond. It has acted swiftly enough to mean the parish meeting has been organised for November 6 and will start at 7.30pm at the Folk Hall.

Portishead Town Council says it is a statutory requirement that if its chairman attends then he should chair a parish meeting.

However, following concerns over who should chair the annual residents’ meeting this year, Cllr Mitchell has told the Times he will not attend next month’s gathering so as to avoid a repeat situation.

He said: “This is a residents’ meeting and therefore I am happy to abstain so that those in attendance can elect their own chairman and run the meeting accordingly.”

Vice chairman Lesley Cottrell will also not attend.

While the meeting is open to everyone, only Portishead’s electorate will be able to vote on motions.

Anyone wishing to submit items for the agenda should do so by October 30, by contacting the clerk at office@portishead.gov.uk or on 01275 847078.

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