Cumbria

Allerdale council group splits to avoid meeting restriction

Council building Image copyright Google
Image caption The council is currently led by the Allerdale Conservative group

A council has reversed plans to limit numbers attending a virtual meeting after half of one political group turned independent to get around it.

Allerdale Borough Council had planned to allow 50% of each group's members into its first full council meeting.

The authority said the restriction was "appropriate" as councillors adapted to online meetings.

But the Allerdale Independents group split in half in a "tactical move" so all councillors could attend .

A spokesman for the council said its chief executive, following consultation with group leaders, had the power to run meetings on a proportional basis.

Councillor Will Wilkinson, who now sits as an independent with seven colleagues, said his decision had been a "tactical move".

"The electorate voted me in to be their voice," said Mr Wilkinson, who represents the St Michaels Workington ward.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service said he denied there had been a fallout within the group, as did councillor Peter Gaston, the representative for Stainburn and Clifton.

"I personally wanted to vote and if I wasn't one of those eight that were attending the meeting, it was taking my right away," Mr Gaston said.

'Additional training'

The council said the decision to limit physical numbers was reversed as it would have left 11 non-aligned councillors rather than the previous three.

The meeting will be held on 22 July via Zoom.

"Under the circumstances, in fairness to all members, the chief executive, again in consultation with all group leaders, has therefore reversed the proportional decision and the council meeting will be run on a 100% attendance basis," the council spokesman added.

"All members have been offered additional training to support their attendance at this, and future meetings."

The council is currently led by the Allerdale Conservative group with a "confidence and supply" agreement from Labour.

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