01:13PM, Friday 24 June 2022
Cllr John Baldwin (left inset) and Mr Andrew Hill (right inset) were left frustrated by a council error
Confusion, frustration and concerns about ‘local governance failure’ dogged a cabinet meeting last night (Thursday, June 23) after a wrong link to the meeting was sent to a resident.
Member of the public Andrew Hill wished to speak on more than one item on the agenda and was set to appear via Zoom link.
However, he arrived later than intended and ‘flustered’ as he was sent the wrong link by the Royal Borough.
He was sent a Microsoft Teams link instead of Zoom and struggled to get hold of someone to rectify the problem swiftly.
He complained that no one had apologised to him – though he was assured by leader of the council Andrew Johnson shortly that there would be an apology imminently.
However, that was not the end of the matter.
Later in the meeting, Cllr John Baldwin (Lib Dem, Belmont) attempted to raise the point again, stating fears that the error might reflect a ‘very serious governance issue’.
However, he was shut down by Cllr Johnson who said Cllr Baldwin should write into the chief executive about it, if he believed that to be the case.
Cllr Baldwin persevered, saying that part two of the meeting – which excludes members of the public – takes place on Teams and therefore the matter had to be addressed before then.
“It occurred to me that perhaps, inadvertently, someone sent Mr Hill an invitation to a confidential meeting of the council,” said Cllr Baldwin.
Cllr Johnson gave his firm reassurances that he would never commence the part two section of the meeting if he saw that a member of the public was present.
“I was concerned by what appears to be yet another failure of governance,” said Cllr Baldwin, after Cllr Johnson attempted to move the meeting on.
Cllr Johnson urged Cllr Baldwin to cease with ‘wild accusations’ about failures of governance and only ask questions relating to the cabinet agenda item in question, if he had any.
“Hardly wild,” replied Cllr Baldwin. “How is inviting members of the public to a part two meeting ‘wild’ [accusations]?”
Nonetheless the meeting moved on shortly afterwards and the matter was not raised again.