The City of London Corporation’s public meeting on St Paul’s
A City of London Corporation press release says:
The City of London Corporation, which is the Highways Authority for the Square Mile, is set to call a special meeting of its Planning and Transportation Committee for Friday to hear legal advice and decide whether and, if so, how to take legal action to clear the highways around St Paul’s of campers.
The Planning and Transportation Committee would meet in private session to consider the legal advice (my emphasis).
The wording is clever, and may lead members of the public unfamiliar with local government legislation into thinking there’s no point in turning up to such a meeting.
In fact, the meeting is bound by law to open in public, and declarations of personal and prejudicial interests on the part of committee members must be made, in public, in respect of the WHOLE agenda. In this case, such declarations may prove of interest to the public, where they concern financial or other relations with St Paul’s.
Only after these declarations of interest have been made can a motion then be put to the meeting with the following wording:
That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of the Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act.
In this case, the exemption will be sought on the grounds that members will be considering ‘information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings’ (Schedule 12A, para 5).
Although any such move is unlikely to succeed, members of the committee are entitled to speak and vote against the motion to hear the legal advice in private, but one or two of them (e.g. The Revd Dr Martin Dudley) might at least be inclined to raise questions on why the motion has been put.
So members of the public who want to witness the start of this meeting, and the likely act of their own exclusion from that meeting, have a legal right to do so.
Here is the agenda for the meeting. The venue is the Livery Hall, and the meeting commences at 10.30am.
h/t to @davidallengreen for spotting this meeting was taking place.