No change in apologies procedure at town hall
Sandbach councillors have rejected calls to change the rules surrounding apologies for absence over fears that the changes could be exploited by members who “can’t be bothered to turn up”.
The item was brought before the town’s Finance, Policy and Governance Committee during a meeting on Thursday at the Literary Institute.
Chair Coun David Jack said that some councillors had requested that apologies be allowed to be given at the start of meetings via other councillors.
As it stands, apologies have to be given to the clerk of the meeting up to an hour before it is due to commence.
He said: “The purposes of giving it before are because we’ve had a couple of meetings where we’ve not been at quorate and had to cancel, when if we’d have been given a message that wouldn’t have happened.
“I wouldn’t want to see a change in that, however some councillors may want to.”
Coun Kieran Seymour added that “something pretty extreme” would have to happen for it to be necessary to have to pass on apologies for absence at such short notice.
Coun Laura Crane suggested a number of circumstances that would require another member to pass on a note of apology, such as a sudden fire or tragedy in the family.
Coun Steve Kirkham said: “If there are good extenuating circumstances when someone can’t attend such as being stuck on the M6 or the examples you’ve given, I can’t see how any reasonable person would hold that against them.”
Coun Gill Merry said she was “strongly against” changing the rules and recalled that they were established in the first place because of occasions when “someone hasn’t bothered to turn up”.
She said: “I saw one of the other members decided to give their apologies, not knowing whether they would have apologised had they remembered there was a meeting.
“I think if you genuinely can’t come you can at least give apologies and in the case of extenuating circumstances that will always be accepted in any event.”
The committee noted the discussion and the issue will also be addressed by the full council before it is taken further.
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