Sandown residents were left shocked at last night’s town council meeting, when the new layout of councillors sitting with their backs to the public was revealed.
The Mayor, Cllr Gary Young, told the public it was not a public meeting, but a meeting in public and that the new layout would help councillors view the Powerpoint presentation.
Young: “I need my people to see me”
However, when a member of the public pointed out that, “with due respect we feel a bit uncomfortable sitting here looking at people’s backs”, Cllr Young said,
“No, you must realise that this is a Council meeting, not a public meeting. If we have a public meeting you will get the Councillors to sit facing you, but you are here to listen to the Council have a meeting I’m afraid and I need my people to see me.”
“Unnecessarily aggressive and unfriendly manner”
Colin Midmore posted on Sandown Hub that he felt Cllr Young had started the meeting in an unnecessarily aggressive and unfriendly manner, something echoed by others attending.
One member of the public raised the point that she was hard of hearing and it helped seeing people’s face when they were talking to understand what was being said. The mayor explained that a loop system was planned.
One councillor objected
Cllr Heather Humby objected to the new layout and turned her chair around when addressing the public.
She said that having councillors’ backs to the public, was impolite and not acceptable.
Midmore: Actions do indeed speak louder than words
Speaking after the meeting, Colin said,
“We have listened to promises of more open and transparent engagement from the Council but unfortunately in this case actions do indeed speak louder than words.”
Watch the meeting
You can watch the council meeting in full via the Sandown Hub Facebook Group, filmed and shared by Cllr Alex Lightfoot.