Tyne & Wear

North Tyneside Council criticised in barring row

North Tyneside council has been criticised for "wrongly" barring a man from council meetings.

A Local Government Ombudsman report said public law principles were not considered or applied when the decision was made in October 2008.

The law demands council meetings are open to the public unless confidential.

The council accepted appropriate measures were not followed and said it would apologise to the man involved who cannot be named.

The Ombudsman report found "maladministration causing injustice" after investigating a complaint by "Mr H".

According to the report a council officer told Mr H he was barred from attending meetings of the council, its committees, sub-committees and panels.

'Improper motives'

And, if he attempted to attend any meetings, council staff would call the police to have him removed.

The investigation found the officer did not have the authority to make the decision and had not properly considered all relevant factors.

The report also found that when Mr H attended a meeting the council's threat to call the police and begin legal proceedings caused him stress and anxiety.

According to the report, Mr H had had a fractious relationship with various representatives of the council and his "written communications" were "characterised by extravagantly unpleasant allegations of improper motives and conspiracies".

Staff reminder

It said the council had limited his access to its offices and contact with staff.

A spokeswoman for North Tyneside Council said the council would apologise to the resident "wrongly excluded from a public meeting" and accepted appropriate measures were not followed.

She said: "The complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman relates to a decision prompted by the attitude of the person, which resulted in a fractious relationship with various representatives of the council.

"This decision was taken by the officer without proper authority and without consideration of whether it was proportionate and in line with the legal considerations."

The statement said council officers would be reminded of the public's rights at open meetings to prevent future incidents.

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