[Yellow Ribbon] Council Meeting - 28th Feb 2002

A question was submitted to the Council by Peter Walker.

Question from Mr Peter Walker to The Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Howard Briggs


In July last year, the Secretary of the Priory Park Preservation Society wrote to all Councillors asking their views relating to the proposal to widen Prior[y] Crescent. The Mayor's Secretary responded that "during his term in office the Mayor must remain neutral on this and all other matters." On 16 November 2001, the Mayor sent an e-mailed response to me repeating that he must "remain neutral on this and all other contentious issues."

On 8 November David and Jane Norman put forward a proposal (item 386 in the Council Minutes) and the Mayor voted against.

Will the Mayor please explain how this act of voting demonstrates his impartiality, and in what way does it inspire confidence among the electors of Southend that the Borough Council will deal with the Priory Park issue in a fair and open manner?


The information given by my Secretary is correct in that it is the custom and practice for the Mayor of Southend-on-Sea not to express personal views on political issues and he or she will not normally become involved in political debate at a Council meeting.

However, the Mayor as an elected Member, is quite entitled to vote on matters coming before the Council and accordingly I voted in the way that I thought best served the public interest.

If I had been required to exercise a second or casting vote (which I was not) then the law imposes no fetter on my discretion: The Court of Appeal has specifically ruled on this point. However, I would have compiled with a convention adopted by all Political Parties and subscribed to by each Mayor that a casting vote will be exercised at Council meetings in support of the Administration at the time.

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