THE council has claimed “data protection” prevents any explanation as to why a town hall meeting came to a halt for a “health and safety risk assessment”.

A review of Tuesday night’s BCP Council meeting has been launched by senior officers with the chair and councillors.

The Daily Echo asked for information on the health and safety issues raised, which sparked the sudden move to adjourn.

Graham Farrant, chief executive of the council, said no detail could be given “in line with data protection legislation”.

It was claimed during the Bournemouth Town Hall meeting that two members of the Conservative group, who had allegedly tested positive for Covid, arrived at the council chamber during a break in proceedings.

Councillors were in the middle of heated discussions over a shake-up of the scrutiny committee structure when this pause took place.

An opposition amendment, proposed by Labour member Lewis Allison, had just been passed to use as an alternative approach than the one tabled in a report by audit and governance committee chair and Conservative councillor John Beesley.

Cllr Allison's proposal used one of the three options which had been looked into and assessed by audit and governance committee.

This amendment was set for further debate after becoming the substantive motion, with a final vote set to take place. However, the meeting was adjourned for ashort period and the chaotic scenes broke out in the chamber. which culminated in the entire meeting coming to a halt.

In a statement, issued 17 hours after the meeting was adjourned, Mr Farrant said: “During the course of the BCP full council meeting on the evening of April 26 an issue was raised which prompted the chair, in consultation with the council leader, opposition leader and chief executive to put forward a motion to adjourn the meeting until May 10.

“The chair cited the reason for the adjournment as a ‘health and safety risk assessment’. The motion was passed.”

Liberal Democrat group leader, councillor Vikki Slade, said the Conservative council leader and deputy leader had been “reckless, ruthless and irresponsible” by “bringing in people during a manufactured adjournment (the short break) to shore up their vote”.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Vikki SladeCllr Vikki Slade

Councillor Drew Mellor, leader of BCP Council and the Conservative group, said: “I can confirm that neither of the Conservative leadership made requests for the two members of the group who arrived late to attend.”

Leader of the Bournemouth Independent and Green group councillor Chris Rigby said while members joining the meeting late was not illegal "it's immoral and puts everyone's health at risk".

"This opens a larger debate into why councils cannot have hybrid meetings, allowing all members to engage and vote without having to attend in person," said Cllr Rigby.

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