Fractious meeting at Ilminster Town Council

It was the last town council meeting before the May 7th elections and it was destined to be, let us say interesting. On Tuesday 14th May, a group of townsfolk, all of whom are standing for election on May 7th challenged the agenda of the town council during public questions.

At issue was not so much the meeting conduct as it went forward, but the nature of the agenda, which in the opinion of the candidates, 9 independents standing under the banner “Voice for Ilminster” breached the rules of “Purdah”. These are local government rules that are designed to ensure that controversial items are not discussed and decided upon by an outgoing council, potentially leaving the incoming council to enforce decisions they do not agree with. Voice for Ilminster state that the Purdah period started on 30th March.

Ilminster Mayor Emma Jane Taylor, did not agree. Stating that having taking legal advice she considered the agenda need not be changed, the matter was closed. The council did not move to vote on the issue raised but proceeded to carry on with the set agenda which as a matter of interest is available here. Ilminster agenda

However that decision is in turn being challenged by Voice for Ilminster. Drew Belobaba told us “In the interests of transparency and full disclosure we are now asking the council to make available to us any documents relating to that legal advice. We would like to see any requests made and the legal advice provided concerning the duties the code imposes on the council during the purdah period. At the meeting the mayor disclosed the existence of this legal advice and relied on it in reaching the decision to continue with the agenda as published. It is our view that legal privilege has been raised.”

The group has asked the council for a response by April 20.

In the meantime Ilminster will have a full bloodied election on May 7th with 20 candidates competing for 15 places. It promises to be an interesting time.

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