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Complaint following councillor Cheryl Bacon
holding a Public Meeting in Closed Session

Public Realm meeting of 19th June 2013

Response

Dear Mr. Tuckley,

Mr. Barnbrook asked me to decode the file that Mrs. Lynn Tyler sent him on 23 August as his laptop was unable to read it. As such I am aware that the council is accusing everyone present at the Public Realm meeting on 19th June 2013 of being guilty of disruptive behaviour at that meeting. Mrs. Tyler refers to the disruption and shouting as being continuous. This is a complete fabrication.

I understand that Mrs. Tyler is the council’s Principal Legal Officer and, I would assume, bound by certain professional ethics so perhaps it is reasonable to assume she is merely relaying the information she was fed and I should not blame her directly for the fabrication.

The letter reveals that the writer interviewed only two councillors, one from each party. No member of the public was interviewed. They should have been and when it suits the council, they have been.

Mrs. Tyler constantly refers to those responsible for, if I may quote two other council documents in my possession, “some disruption” in the plural. This is at odds with the guidance issued by the council, I assume by Mr. Moore, immediately after the meeting which specifically refers to disruption by an individual.

The untruthful use of the plural is obviously the key to the set of excuses relayed by Mrs. Tyler but the claim is totally untrue as Mr. Moore’s guidance note confirms. No one but Mr. Dowling said anything at all during the meeting; I believe one may have done so during an Adjournment but those people will no doubt speak for themselves.

I object most strongly to being accused of disruptive behaviour while I sat alone and in total silence throughout the proceedings. I was closer to the nearest councillor than I was to any member of the public. However despite my totally impassive demeanour I was excluded from the reconvened meeting. Councillor Bacon announced to everyone present that she was taking her meeting into “Closed Session”.

The use of the term Closed Session has a totally unambiguous meaning. No one disputes that Councillor Bacon said it and I took her instruction at face value. Why would anyone expect me to do otherwise?

Those who asked her to admit them were rebuffed. Everyone present was refused admission to the reconvened meeting.

Mrs. Tyler has been hoodwinked into writing a totally false account and if she is to be believed, two councillors gave her the false report on which her letter is based. Who were they? Presumably Councillor Bacon has to be one of them.

What Mrs. Tyler has overlooked is that I and others do speak to councillors occasionally. I did so on the evening in question and I have subsequently, as have other members of the public who were excluded. As such we know that Mrs. Tyler’s two councillors’ account of the evening in question is not confirmed by others. It doesn’t require any great knowledge of procedures to realise that Councillor Bacon stepped outside the law when she declared a Closed Session to every member of the public present - including the Labour Party Candidate for Lesnes ward who was also unjustifiably excluded.

I can fully understand the temptation for the council to attempt to lie its way out of another illegal act, it always does, but I object to being used as an excuse for its law breaking. No councillor can truthfully say I have spoken out at any meeting and certainly not on 19th June.

I must ask you to widen your enquiries so as to confirm my account; several councillors were able to look straight at me and did. They will not be hard to find. I want to know who it was who labelled me disruptive either personally or by a broad-brush statement.

This email should also be considered to be a formal complaint against Councillor Cheryl Bacon for telling me her meeting was to be held in Closed Session, thereby unreasonably and unlawfully depriving me of my right to attend it.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Knight

6th September 2013

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