Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public


To receive questions from members of the public who wish to ask a general question in respect of matters within the Council’s area of responsibility or influence.


Subject to the Chair’s discretion, members of the public may ask one question and one supplementary question, which should relate to the original question and answered received.


Councillors may also ask questions under this agenda item.


(1)    Mr. Thirlwall referred to the previous question he had asked at Cabinet, where he had requested that a meeting take place between himself, the Leader, the Chair of the Standards and Ethics Committee, the Chief Executive and other officers in relation to the Register Of Interests (R.O.I) by the Rotherham Democratic Party.  He explained that the Leader had declined to hold this meeting and had responded by letter. As such Mr. Thirlwall asked for specific answers to the following individual questions:

a.  Councillors B. Cutts, Turner and Reeder should have informed the Council in March 2020 that they had changed from the Brexit Party to the Rotherham Democratic Party. Why did it take until October 2020 to update their R.O.I’s?

b.  It was brought to the Leader’s attention at the October 2020 Council meeting. Why did it take a further 7 days to alter Councillors B. Cutts  and Turner’s R.O.I and around 30 days to alter Councillor Reeder’s? Why were they not they altered on the same day?

c.   Councillor McNeely had informed Mr. Thirlwall that the reason the R.O.I’s were not changed was due to Covid problems and internet issues. What were the problems with the internet?

d.  Why could Councillor B. Cutts not amend his details via the internet when he was able to attend Microsoft Teams meetings?

e.  Due to Covid, Councillor B. Cutts was unable to drop off his revised R.O.I at the Town Hall. Why could he not post it? Or drop it off at Riverside or outside the lockdown period? He had previously not registered his change from UKIP to the Brexit Party or registered properties he owned. This was before the pandemic.

f.    It is the individual responsibility of Members to update their R.O.I. If the changes can be done by a third party with the consent of the individual Member, is the consent recorded?

g.  If it could be changed by a third party, why was it not done in March 2020?

h.  If consent to a third party can be given over the phone, can the change not be requested over the phone and if so, eliminate the need for a third party?

i.    How did some Members of the Rotherham Democratic Party manage to update their R.O.I’s but not others?

j.    Mr. Thirlwall accepted that changing the Party name was not a pecuniary interest but questioned if the Independent Person was correct in saying that only pecuniary interests needed to be recorded? If so, why have the other options on the R.O.I form, especially the reference to political parties? When did the Independent Person assume the authority to change Council policy decisions?

k.   The Independent Person has advised that if the breach had been corrected, it did not require further investigation. Was the Independent Person saying that the 28 days stipulated in law does not apply and if so why is it included in the legislation?

l.    What legal training and qualifications in municipal law does the Independent Person have or was he relying on the advice from the legal officer?

m.Can the Councillors be made to register their political interests on their R.O.I form?


Mr. Thirlwall did not expect the Leader to answer all of these questions and, as such, again requested a meeting to discuss the matter. Mr. Thirlwall also confirmed that he was looking deeper into the claim that a Cabinet Member was “not fit for purpose.”


The Leader explained that the Council’s Procedure Rules stated that a member of the public could ask one question with the possibility of a supplementary at the discretion of the Chair. As Mr. Thirlwall had asked numerous questions, the Leader confirmed that Legal Services would respond in writing.