Last Tuesday evening’s BCP council meeting ended abruptly after two councillors, who were believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, were called to attend mid-meeting by their Conservative colleagues.
Not only did this bizarre move present a major risk to the health of all in attendance, Cllr Tony Trent called the decision “an affront to democracy".
Cllr Vikki Slade and Cllr Millie Early took to Facebook straight after the adjournment of the council to record a live video explaining to BCP residents what had gone on. “Unusually we had about 15 people missing from council this evening and that meant we had the opportunity to get our motion for Ukraine through - we were really excited about it,” Cllr Slade explained. The motion included the need for more support for those fleeing conflict as well as calling for consideration to be given to utilise the now empty Poole and Christchurch Civic Centres to support refugees.
However before the Ukraine motion had a chance to be discussed, Councillors voted on the Conservative proposal to make changes to the way they are scrutinised and held to account. Cllr Millie Earl said, “We felt as a group that the Conservatives were trying to grab scrutiny and mould it into something that suited them and their administration … they were trying to dampen down scrutiny. But because they were going to lose that vote, because so many people disagreed, they actually brought people in with Covid to stop it from happening.”
Before the motion went to vote, the Tory Council Leader called for an adjournment.
Cllr Slade explains, “It was weird that when we re-started two (previously absent) members of the Conservative group had turned up both wearing masks. It transpires that the reason they weren’t in the meeting earlier was because they had Covid. I've never seen anything like it.”
It is understood that at this point two council officers made it known that they were not prepared to continue and the Chief Executive sought permission to abandon the meeting. Cllr Vikki Slade explained that this was not well received by some members who felt that it was unfair not to be able to complete business, including the Ukraine motion, or to ratify the scrutiny vote which was incomplete. However, the wellbeing of staff and their rights to a safe working environment took priority.
Cllr Slade continued, “The Ukraine motion now won't happen until 10th May. Absolutely unbelievable. We're all absolutely disgusted at the way this council is being manipulated. We thought we'd seen everything.”
A vote of no confidence has now been called and will happen on Tuesday 10th May 2022.