Ring Fenced Off-Island Seats Questioned

Council Chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

The question of whether off-island Councillors should have reserved places on council committees has been raised in the annual Full Council meeting.

The debate started while Councillors were discussing the Community Services committee. It has 8 positions and half have to be reserved for off-island members.

Cllr Richard McCarthy, who represents St Agnes, felt that an additional St Mary’s member should be appointed as many of the committee functions, including Lifelong Learning, Park House and the new sports facilities are St Mary’s based.

The difficulties of balancing the committees with a prescribed number of off-island representatives became clear when members tried to appoint to the General Purposes committee.

The vote became complicated and the meeting descended into chaos.

At one point, Cllr John Goddard asked “can someone explain what path we’re going down?” adding, “this is getting completely out of hand.”

Cllr Dudley Mumford twice questioned the guaranteed off-island committee places.

The General Purposes committee oversees the airport, roads and Council-operated water services with a £1m budget.

Dudley said there was one off-island member who had attended just 3 out of 18 meetings. A compromise was found by electing Cllr Mike Nelhams to serve as the Tresco representative instead Cllr Robert Dorrien-Smith.

Cllr Christine Savill said she wouldn’t be averse to Dudley’s suggestion that off-island ring fencing should be discussed but it shouldn’t be rushed.

She wanted Dudley to “go with the flow for another year.”

Philip Hygate confirmed to Dudley that the off-island ring fencing could be dropped if Councillors wished.