Town clerk walks out of explosive town council meeting after fiery row – in which he is accused of ‘sneaking’ an item on to agenda

PUBLISHED: 22:42 10 February 2020 | UPDATED: 22:51 10 February 2020

A row erupted at Honiton Town Council's meeting, held at The Beehive. Ref mhh 42 19TI 2189. Picture: Terry Ife

A row erupted at Honiton Town Council's meeting, held at The Beehive. Ref mhh 42 19TI 2189. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

The latest meeting Honiton Town Council exploded into chaotic scenes tonight – resulting in the town clerk walking out after being accused of secretly placing an item on to the agenda.

Mark Tredwin withdrew from the meeting, at The Beehive, citing doctor's orders after town mayor Councillor John Zarczynski said a report was 'sneaked on to the agenda'.

Councillors were discussing the following agenda item when the row broke out: 'for members to look at adding and deleting members from committees and working groups.'

Cllr Caroline Kolek questioned whether a meeting of Honiton Town Council's Human Resources committee earlier today (Monday) had been held illegally, after legal advice was released on Friday evening.

Mr Tredwin said legal advice was circulated that stated the meeting of the HR committee was 'ultra vires' - meaning 'beyond the powers'.

He said the point was the agenda stated it can be to resolve any changes to committees and outside bodies 'as agreed at this meeting'.

Mr Tredwin said: "If a councillor wishes to discuss the composition of a committee, they can do so because the agenda item does allow for it."

Cllr Zarczynski said he disagreed, and said the item was placed on the agenda without his knowledge as he and the clerk sat down to agree the agenda.

He said the issue should be made into an agenda item if councillors felt the issues involving the HR committee were strong enough.

Cllr Zarczynski said: "This is purely a composition of committees, this is not a complaint against a committee. There is nothing on this agenda that says that.

"What has been raised... is a separate thing all together."

Cllr Ray Hanratty said when a committee has operated outside its remit and created a 'huge faux pas' in operational procedure, its membership needs to be called into question.

He said: "I would propose a motion that we disband the current HR committee with a view to reassembling it with new members."

The motion was seconded by Cllr Michelle Pollington, but before a vote was taken, Cllr Zarczynski said he could 'see now why this was sneaked on to the agenda'.

Mr Tredwin said he did not take kindly to Cllr Zarczynski's accusations and revealed he was signed off earlier that morning.

He withdrew from the meeting, apologising to deputy town clerk Heloise Marlow.

As the meeting descended into chaos, Cllr Kolek said illegal meetings had been held and walked out.

The meeting was ended before the town council could discuss becoming a Fair Trade authority, and decisions had been made in relation to grant funding for the town's air cadets and Scouting group.

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