Epworth councillor caught recording meeting urged to step aside
Calls have been made for a town councillor to resign after he was caught recording a cabinet member during a discussion from which he had been made exempt.
North Lincolnshire Council cabinet member Rob Waltham halted a talk about the youth service at Epworth Town Council's meeting last month because he discovered the discussion was being recorded by Epworth Town Councillor Jonathan Whittaker.
And some town councillors feel Mr Whittaker's conduct has tarnished the council's reputation and have called for his resignation.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Graham Wilson said: "I call for him to stand down. I believe this council has been brought into ill repute and he's taking us down with him, especially doing it in front of a cabinet member – it's unbelievable."
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Mr Waltham, who is cabinet member for young people at North Lincolnshire Council, was invited to the meeting held in Epworth's Imperial Hall, to address councillors about the plans for the youth services.
Epworth Town Councillor Jonathan Whittaker, vice- chairman of the town council, gave a statement about the youth service before leaving the room due to having a prejudicial interest in the agenda item.
But as Mr Waltham began to speak on the issue, he noticed a recording function had been activated on Mr Whittaker's mobile phone which was on the desk in front of him.
At the time, Mr Whittaker said he did not know the phone had been set to record and remained outside until the item had been discussed.
But in a statement read out by Mr Whittaker at this month's meeting, he admitted he made the recording and apologised for his conduct.
He said he had been putting together a competitive tender to run a £35,000 project to provide universal youth work sessions based in Epworth.
As part of that, he was seeking funding from the town council – but he said he felt not being in the room potentially put him at a disadvantage over the other people who might submit tenders.
He said: "At the time of this incident, I was not aware that recording a publicly open meeting was against the code of conduct. I acknowledge that it is written quite clearly in the code of conduct and I can only assume that at the time of familiarising myself with the code I have not read this section properly."
He has agreed to attend a code of conduct training session in early December.
Councillor Richard Hall said: "I believe it has brought the council into disrepute."
After the meeting, he said: "The vice-chairman was caught red handed recording part of the proceedings, for which I believe anyone with a sense of decency would have stood down from that position."