Angry scenes as tempers boil over at Honiton Town Council meeting

 

Owl catches up on Honiton: Angry members of the public heckled Honiton Town councillors as tempers flared at last night’s meeting. [Monday 25 Feb]

There were noisy exchanges between councillors and the packed public benches before one well-known member of the community stormed out while hurling abuse at Mayor John Zarczynski.

Almost 4,500 social media users have since viewed Honiton Nub News’ Facebook Live coverage of the meeting, held at the The Beehive.

Hannah Corfield

honiton.nub.news 

Angry members of the public heckled Honiton Town councillors as tempers flared at last night’s meeting.

There were noisy exchanges between councillors and the packed public benches before one well-known member of the community stormed out while hurling abuse at Mayor John Zarczynski.

Almost 4,500 social media users have since viewed Honiton Nub News’ Facebook Live coverage of the meeting, held at the The Beehive.

Trouble erupted when councillors agreed to move several items on the agenda into the private Part B section of the meeting.

Earlier, it had addressed items which had been included on the previous agenda and funding was agreed for two charitable organisations – Honiton Scouts and The Air Cadets – along with a consideration of Honiton’s Fairtrade status, an update on Gate2Plate 2020 and a discussion regarding VE/VJ Day commemorations.

Mayor, Cllr John Zarczynski, announced that the following four items – 18, 19, 20 and 21 – were of a ‘confidential nature’ and the clerk had ‘recommended’ they be moved to Part B.

Part B excludes the public from council debate, usually for the reason of financial sensitivity.

Cllr Vera Howard then proposed the motion, which was seconded by Cllr Philip Carrigan.

Frequent use of Part B has caused many to question the council’s transparency.

Cllr Jason Hannay spoke out to address this concern stating that a lot of what is ‘confidential’ is already ‘in the public domain through the Freedom Of Information Act’ and ‘that it was what a lot of people wanted to listen to as it was their town’.

Cllr Zarczynski responded that he ‘could only go by the agenda prepared by the clerk’ however conceded that two votes take place on whether the items be moved to Part B.

Following a vote on the initial motion that the items be moved to Part B, Cllr Caroline Kolek spoke out saying that she was ‘conscious’ of the large volume of people who had showed up and whether time be set aside for some questions.

The mayor rejected the proposal, stating that public question time had been part of the previous meeting and would only be permitted again at the next full council meeting.

He acknowledged that there were issues that people wanted answers to and that there ‘was a lot going around on social media’ however members of the public were invited to submit their questions for the meeting in two weeks time.

Someone sitting in the public gallery shouted: “What are you afraid of?” to which Cllr Zarczynski responded “nothing”.

At this point, well respected member of the Honiton community Joseph Furneaux-Gotch, spoke up to say that he ‘rejected the decision as a member of the public’.

Addressing the mayor directly, he said: “What you’ve just done is to move stuff into Part B, and all these people who live and work in Honiton deserve to know what’s going on.

“And do you know why they’re not going to hear it? Because an unelected group of people are pushing stuff into a secret meeting.”

This was met by a loud round of applause and people expressing their support.

He went on to say: “Hardly anyone uses Part B, except for financial matters, but you use it all the time.”

The mayor defended his position, stating that he was ‘following the agenda’, however Mr Furneaux-Gotch left the meeting calling the mayor ‘horrific’ and ‘horrendous’ and ‘why didn’t he put himself up for election to see what the people voted’.

Another member of the public gallery, Steve Keene, called on everyone to ‘keep it level’ and ‘not to become a mob’.

He said: “Let’s just leave and we’ll come back on the 9th.”

This morning it emerged that a councillor later resigned – click below for more.

 

One thought on “Angry scenes as tempers boil over at Honiton Town Council meeting

  1. According to the law, Part B items need to be advertised as such a week (?) in advance. It is AFAIK illegal to vote to move an item to Part B on the day.

    Like

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