Meeting madness

Your report (Opinion, Ottery Herald, March 28, front) that East Devon District Council’s monitoring officer has ‘suggested that Ottery St Mary Town Council (OSMTC) consider … assertiveness training for all councillors’.

What utter nonsense! They may need training in common courtesy and in respecting the views of others with whom they don’t agree but it was too much ‘assertiveness’ that gave rise to the complaints in the first place.

In any event, control of a meeting is the chairman’s responsibility. His role is to shut up the noisy councillors, encourage the quiet ones to speak, ensure that everyone has understood what speakers have said and summarise all the opinions expressed before ascertaining the majority view. He should not impose his own views and must, if necessary, remind councillors they are there to represent the interests of their communities and not to express their personal prejudices about issues or individuals.

In the case of OSMTC, it seems that only the independent councillors obviously work on behalf of their communities; the motives of others is sometimes less clear.

Perhaps what OSMTC needs is an independent, expert appraisal scheme to assess the effectiveness of each councillor individually, starting with the chairman, and for any necessary training to be directly related to the needs of individual councillors.

Alec Sandison

Bendarroch Road, West Hill.