Ex-councillors and other members of the public were left fuming after being barred from the room holding last Friday’s (May 19) momentous full meeting of Herefordshire Council.

Five of them, including former county councillors Marcelle Lloyd-Hayes, Angela Tyler and Jeremy Milln, sent a hand-written note to the council’s chief executive Paul Walker and newly appointed chairman Coun Roger Phillips from the adjoining room set aside for the public, where a video relay had been set up, to protest.

“Some people have left already, very disappointed that there is no public gallery,” they wrote.


There had been no advance notice that the full council meeting, held for the first time in the main meeting room of the council’s Plough Lane headquarters, would not admit the public, their letter pointed out.

Yet given it was to appoint a new leader of the council, there was much public interest in the meeting, which drew 840 viewers on the council’s YouTube channel, well above the ususal figure for such a meeting.

“To shunt the public out of sight is unacceptable,” they wrote.

“There was plenty of room in the building’s atrium where public meetings have been held before,” Ms Lloyd-Hayes said afterwards.


She was nominated by the others to try to gain entry to the room during the meeting, but was ejected by officials, she said.

Another signatory, Fiona Reid, said: “Not being in the same room means one can only see or hear what is on camera or microphone, so literally not the full picture.”

Liberal Democrat leader on the council Terry James said: “Large sums were spent on facilities by the previous administration, but this clearly wasn’t suitable.

“The sooner we get back to Shire Hall, where the public can actually see the meetings, the better.”

In response, Herefordshire Council said: “We are currently reconfiguring the meeting rooms at Plough Lane to accommodate large meetings, such as full council meetings.

“While this work is under way, members of the public who wish to attend in person are able to watch from an adjoining room.”

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