The Worshipful The Mayor of Medway said how deeply saddened Medway Council was by the recent passing of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Mayor extended the Council’s deepest sympathies to Her Majesty The Queen and to the Royal family.
The Mayor confirmed that the Council had flown the flags at Gun Wharf and Rochester Castle at half-mast, until Sunday 18 April, as a mark of respect. Local residents had been encouraged to sign the online book of condolence. In addition, a book of condolence had been made available at the Corn Exchange.
Paying tribute, the Leader of the Council said that the funeral had been moving, particularly in view of the circumstances. He considered that His Royal Highness had been a remarkable character who had a special place in the nation’s psyche and noted his championing of conservation and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
The Leader of the Opposition said the funeral of His Royal Highness had been unique, but in view of Covid-19 restrictions, regrettably, also like so many others. He noted that the Duke had served in the Royal Navy for 14 years, including during the Second World War and had visited Medway, including the Historic Dockyard, many times.
A minute’s silence was held in honour of His Royal Highness.
The Mayor reminded Members that tributes had been made at the last Full Council meeting to the Chief Legal Officer, Perry Holmes, who would shortly be leaving Medway Council to join Wiltshire Council. As the current meeting would be his last, the Mayor and other Members thanked Mr Holmes once again for the support he had provided and wished him well for his new role.
The Leader of the Opposition requested that the Council consider suspending Chapter 4 Rule 16.1 for the duration of the Council meeting to enable two motions to be considered that had not been included in the Council agenda. The Leader of the Opposition said that the two motions had been submitted in good faith, in line with published constitution of the Council, but had not been published in the agenda. The two motions related to the NHS and to Violence Against Women and Girls and it was considered important that the Council be given the opportunity to debate these motions.
The Chief Legal Officer advised that a fundamental rule of local authority proceedings was that the primary consideration was the law and that the law was used to interpret the Constitution.
The two motions had not been published on the agenda as, following a decision made by Council in January 2021, Council Rule 10.2 specified that a maximum of one motion would be permitted for each political group and that where multiple motions were received from a political group, only the first motion received would be accepted. In this case, the motion submitted by Councillor Andy Stamp had been received before the other motions, which had been submitted by Councillors Khan and Murray. Therefore, Councillor Stamp’s motion had been published in the agenda.
He advised that the Local Government Act 1972 set out the fundamental principle that a local authority must give notice of its Council meetings and publish an agenda so that the public could see what would be discussed. There was no provision for urgent business that had not been included on the agenda to be considered at the Council meeting. Therefore, the Chief Legal Officer advised that there should not be a vote on whether to suspend Council rules to allow the additional motions to be considered by the Council.