Senior councillor criticises Sheffield Council decision to boot colleague out of meeting

Sheffield Council’s former cabinet member for neighbourhoods has criticised the council for kicking councillors out of a special meeting.

By Molly Williams
Friday, 16 August, 2019, 18:37
Councillors Alison Teal and Paul Turpin holding up a plastic pen in plastic wrapping given to them by the council for the committee. Coun Turpin said this is an example of their 'naivety' around environmental issues.

Councillor Jim Steinke, representative for Nether Edge and Sharrow, said the decision to boot Coun Alison Teal out of a meeting on the Gleadless Valley masterplan was unfair.

Councillor Teal, who is also a representative for Nether Edge and Sharrow, said she was booted out of the meeting earlier this week for taking notes for a colleague.

Coun Paul Turpin, representative for Gleadless Valley, was unable to attend so had asked Coun Teal to step in for him.

Councillor Jim Steinke

But Coun Paul Wood, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said this was ‘unacceptable’ and asked for her to leave. When she refused the meeting was cancelled, sending more than 20 people away.

Coun Steinke said: “When I was chair I’m sure we did announce substitutes then.

“Paul is a dedicated ward councillor, it is only reasonable that we would expect substitutes to be allowed. That decision was counterproductive on our part.”

The meeting agenda included a number of items on environmental issues.

Coun Teal said the decision was ‘outrageous’ and added: “It seems to me they are making excuses…to go to the extreme of cancelling the meeting gives us a pretty strong clue that they were going to discuss something that they didn’t want Green councillors to know about.

“Paul is a really dedicated councillor who likes to know what’s going on and wanted to be there but the meeting was organised when he wasn’t available.

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“The decision to cancel it was met with incredulity. One chap stood up and said ‘I’m a busy person, I had to make quite an effort to be here – how will I be compensated?’, other people were shaking their heads, one person said something like ‘is this political shenanigans?’.”

Coun Wood said he stands by his decision.

“I’ve been very strict that anyone who sits in those meetings should have direct involvement with the masterplan.

“Officers were told to check the diaries of everyone attending to see if they would be able to make it – whether they did this I don’t know.

“We are far from the stage where other people can comment on these plans. If I agreed to them coming I may as well have made it a public meeting.”

Coun Turpin said the decision was ‘ridiculous’ and added that he was the only councillor in the ward who lived in Gleadless Valley.

He said that is was not the first time he had disagreements with members of the group. He added that he was given a plastic pen in plastic wrapping by the council for the working group which he said showed their ‘naivety’ about environmental issues.

Local democracy reporter Lucy Ashton was also turned away from a Gleadless Valley masterplan meeting. Despite being held in public the council incorrectly tried to bar her from reporting on the plans.

Coun Wood said the meeting would be rescheduled as soon as possible and that he would ensure Coun Turpin and all other members of the group would be available to attend.