Council discusses transparency matter - in private

PUBLISHED: 12:53 28 April 2010 | UPDATED: 01:11 16 June 2010

SEATON Town Council will undertake professional training following accusations that some of its decisions taken during private meetings had the potential be unlawful .

SEATON Town Council will undertake professional training following accusations that some of its decisions taken during private meetings had the potential be 'unlawful'.

The Midweek Herald revealed the Audit Commission's findings last month and its recommendation that staff and councillors undergo training.

But despite calls for greater transparency, the council has discussed the matter in private.

East Devon District Council is calling for more openness from the town council.

An EDDC spokesman said: "It is for the town council to decide what, if any, communication takes place with the community about the advice they received.

"However, given that recent complaints have concerned the council's approach to openness and transparency of communication, adopting that approach in all future cases, including this one, would seem advisable."

During the monthly meeting, Cllr Peter Burrows questioned the arrangements for training.

Town clerk David Mears said they would arrange a training day in the summer and he hoped all councillors would be able to attend.

EDDC's Monitoring Officer Denise Lyon wrote to the town council in January following a number of complaints about the way it conducted its business, and its communication with the community.

Ms Lyon wrote: "The Audit Commission do consider that there is potential that decisions are being made by the town council in private session unlawfully.

"They are clearly concerned about this and have considered whether there is enough evidence to warrant them conducting an investigation."

However, no investigation was launched - because of the substantial cost to the public purse.

Mr Mears denied a private meeting had been held before the monthly meeting, and said it had been a 'general' get- together with officers and councillors to rearrange a training day.

The notice had been put on the agenda by Cllr Burrows, but Mr Mears said he had already responded to Ms Lyon.

He said: "Councillors could not see the point of debating a letter which had already been answered.


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