North Down Councillor, Stephen Farry, has expressed puzzlement that North Down Council first voted to exclude the Public and Press from Standing Committees, and then voted to readmit the public to these meetings as the Press are members of the public.
Stephen Farry said:
“The decision to exclude press and public from the Standing Committees of Council was a backward step. North Down conducts its business through standing committee of the whole council which in practice become de facto mini-Councils. As long as this remains the case decisions should be open to public scrutiny.
“There are major problems as to how business is conducted within the Council; most other parties are not operating in a disciplined manner. North Down should put its house in order at the expense of open and accountable local government. Other means should be pursued.
“The decision however to readmit the public to these committee meetings is very puzzling. The press are members of the public and are therefore entitled to come along. Discussions and decisions will be in the public domain, and therefore eligible to be reported. Why would some on the Council therefore go to the trouble and raise the controversy over excluding the press, when they immediately reversed their decision? Why was the issue raised in the first place, causing much time to be wasted?”