‘Secret’ Kimberley council meeting cancelled after protest threat

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Kimberley Town Council has cancelled a ‘secret’ meeting, uninviting of the public, following threats of a public protest.

The meeting was for councillors to discuss accounts prior to the open council next week, but was not made public and did not follow government rules.

Council clerk Lisa Brown emailed councillors informing them of the cancellation.

She said: “My intention when calling this gathering was to be informal opportunity for Councillors to update their knowledge on issues surrounding our budget, accounts and precept.

“This was to ensure that a full and meaningful discussion at next week’s council meeting could take place.

“I now realise that my use of the word “meeting” implied that Public were entitled to attend tonight.”

The meeting will no longer take place, so the 10-20 protesters will not be attending, said Green Party councillor, Kat Boettge.

Ms Boettge, who called for the protest, said: “It’s interesting, obviously they got scared.

“This meeting would have been unlawful - we put that towards them and they cancelled it.”

And despite the ‘meeting’ being of an informal nature, a council needs a very good reason to meet in private, she added.

“Every meeting needs to be public, I’m happy that the point has been made, I don’t want to protest just for the sake of it.”

“But they are excusing themselves without a full explanation - how many stories have we had in the last couple of years that Kimberley Town Council is undemocratic?

“They need to follow procedures to the letter.”

Tray Bay, a campaigner for open and transparent politics and a member of Anonymous Nottingham Pirates, who regularly films at council meetings, said she is always surprised by the stir caused when you try to film public meetings.

She added: “It’s the public’s right to film at these meetings and I believe parish council meetings should be completely transparent.

“But it’s always the same. When we show up at council meetings around Nottinghamshire the councillors are irate.”

Being filmed greatly affects how councillors behave, and their input into discussions, she told.

”But if you’re not willing to be filmed you are not fit for the job.

“They need to be shown the public have every right to be involved.”

Council leader Dr David Nunn was not available for comment.