The summer of discontent at BCP Council continues following a bizarre and fractious meeting over the political balance of the authority.

One member was accused of 'slagging off' another, there were reprimands for sheep noises and a stand-off between a councillor and the chairman after one councillor was told to shut up.

It's the latest in a series of argumentative exchanges between members, tonight's threatening to see one member excluded from the chamber. 

The extraordinary meeting was called to review and approve the political balance of the council, the allocation of seats on committees to each political group, appointment of councillors to committees and appointments to outside bodies.

This review was needed to ensure compliance with the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and associated regulations.

Read the full documentation here

It comes after four former Conservatives members, who left the Tory Group last month, and established Independent Julie Bagwell formed the Poole Local Group.

With five seats on the council, it is the joint fourth largest group alongside Poole Independents.

The Conservatives now hold 37 of the 76 seats on BCP Council, followed by Liberal Democrats (13 councillors) and Christchurch Independents (seven councillors).

Two amendments on the political balance proposed by Christchurch Independents and Cllr Lewis Allison were defeated.

Cllr Lesley Dedman said: "Am I to understand Christchurch is being booted off any form of scrutiny for a former Conservative?

"We know what voters in Christchurch think of your administration. Any form of faith they had is shutted."

But during the nearly two hour discussion on the issue, the Conservative leadership said it was up to the opposition to decide on representation.

Cllr Phil Broadhead, deputy leader said the Conservatives would not agree to changing their allocation on committees, and suggested opposition councillors sort it out among themselves.

He was supported by Cllr Drew Mellor, who reiterated these sentiments during his final summing up of the evening.

It was said at the meeting that the Christchurch Independents had representation on some of the scrutiny committees but not the Place, Overview and Scrutiny Committee or Corporate and Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Debate over amendments descended when Cllr Mark Howell said Cllr Julie Bagwell, one of the new Poole Local Group stood for election under an 'anti-Conservative message'.

Bournemouth Echo: Image from BCP CouncilImage from BCP Council


She responded, calling him mush, adding: "You were slagging me off mush."

Cllr Mark Howell, who had the floor at the time, asked hecklers to 'shut up for God's sake', and upon being asked to sit down, refused, saying he was constantly interrupted during his allocated three minutes.

Leader, Cllr Drew Mellor raised a point of order, saying Cllr Howell should be removed.

But he hadn't mentioned which point of order in the constitution he was referring to, and Cllr Howell was allowed to remain in the meeting and sat down, to the consternation of some members.

Cllr Judes Butt, said Cllr Howell should leave because he was upsetting people.

Later, once the original motion had been voted upon and passed, chairman Cllr Hedges further reprimanded Cllr Howell after he was accused of calling some members 'sheep'. 

However, he said he used the word 'Baaaa'. Cllr Hedges then asked the right hand side of the chamber not to make sheep noises.

Before the meeting could officially end, some members began to walk out, with Cllr Hedges declaring the meeting over.