Published: 06:00, 07 November 2019
The Mayor of Sandwich is calling for order at council meetings after a member demanded another “sit down and shut up”.
Cllr Jeff Franklin, chairman of the monthly public meetings, says he has not known behaviour like it in the 22 years he has been a councillor.
He had used his discretion to stop questions after a report by Kent County Council (KCC) councillor Sue Chandler. According to Labour’s David Wood, this “antagonised” certain members including new Labour councillor Danielle Sivrikaya, whose bid to speak was stopped.
Standing Orders - the rule book for councillors - state the mayor decides whether debate or questions can be raised following a report. He says he did not allow questions because they were about the closure of Wayfarers, a matter that’s been decided at KCC level and is out of the council’s remit.
When Cllr Harry Sampson proposed that members who want to discuss an item should request it be placed on the agenda, Cllr Sivrikaya said he should “sit down and shut up”.
Cllr Sampson told us: “I was shocked by the behaviour of Cllr Sivirikaya.
“I was trying to help by suggesting a way to discuss her concerns appropriately.
“Indignant shouting out of turn is pointless and all councillors can table items for productive discussion. The mayor is very supportive of new councillors and robust in upholding the rules we all voted to accept, and had plenty of time to learn. Anything disruptive now is just ignorance or a publicity ploy.
“I have not received an apology.”
Cllr Sivrikaya acknowledged her outburst but said it was in response to being mocked.
She said: “Constantly, if I a say something they [Conservative members] either laugh or say I don’t understand it. I understand Standing Orders. I’ve read them back to front.
“I felt on this occasion Harry was joining them; laughing and smiling. I think the mayor needs to be more fair and balanced.”
Other outbursts had been witnessed earlier in the meeting between councillors John Bragg and Paul Carter, attracting criticism from both within and outside of the council.
Deputy mayor Cllr MJ Holloway described proceedings as “farcical” while Dean Marie who was in the public gallery described what he witnessed as a “shambles”.
Cllr Franklin said training to learn procedures was undertaken by councillors in July.
He said: “We’ve all had training but it’s still terrible.
“It was never like this. Councillors never spoke unless it was to the mayor or town clerk, it was more polite.
“I just want it to all calm down. I just want it orderly.
“If they could all stick to procedures then it could all go smoothly.
“Read Standing Orders and read the minutes.”