FOLLOWING another exclusion from last week’s council meeting, a councillor claims her fellow members are acting in an “undemocratic and unfair manner”.

Reflecting on previous incidents, during the Shaftesbury Town Council meeting on November 3 Councillors Karen Tippins and Peter Yeo flagged that it is “unlawful” to be frequently removed from meetings.

It was also heard during the meeting that town clerk Claire Commons had been written to twice by Cllr Yeo’s solicitor on the matter.

Despite this, Cllr Yeo was removed from the virtual meeting last week, after quoting case law and accusing the authority of breaching the law.

Referring to the record of a council meeting held on September 29, of which Cllrs Yeo and Tippins were excluded, Cllr Yeo said: "These [minutes] are unlawful and totally inaccurate. It says I ‘left the meeting’ and Cllr Tippins ‘left the meeting’, what it should say is that we were unlawfully ejected from the meeting."

He added: "I just want to know when is this council going to operate within the law."

Before his exclusion later in the meeting, chairman and Cllr Andy Hollingshead said to Cllr Yeo: “You would serve your constituents better if you learned how to do your job and conducted yourself properly, rather than sitting here ranting at every single opportunity and making a fool of yourself.”

Cllr Tippins said the authority was acting in an “undemocratic and unfair manner” adding that the “bullying” behaviour towards her can be compared to the Ledbury Vs. Harvey case.

In 2018 Ledbury Town Council was sued for more than £200,000 because of mistreatment towards a councillor.

Cllr Hollingshead however said there was a “misunderstanding” in quoting this case law.

Speaking to the Journal after the meeting, Cllr Tippins said: “What a councillor can’t do is turn around and tell another councillor off or give a disciplinary, everyone is of equal status.

“[The clerk] agrees with us being deleted from these meetings and that is the fundamental problem. It is unlawful and against our constitutional and electoral rights.

"We must attend these meetings to say our bit. In my opinion it is a lack of comprehension and understanding of the democratic process.”

Cllr Tippins added that standing orders should only be used in exceptional circumstances, the meeting should be suspended or adjourned in the first instance, rather than exclusion.

Cllr Hollingshead said: “Councillors can be excluded from meetings if their behaviour causes them to breach our code of conduct – it is completely lawful.”

In response to claims that Cllr Tippins is being bullied, Cllr Hollingshead added: “I’m not aware nor seen any evidence that she is being bullied by anybody.

"We’re all required to treat others with respect, if a councillor breaches that then it is up to the individual to enter a formal complaint.”