Fareham Borough councillor’s banana eating at meeting sparks row

CRITICISED Sean Woodward
CRITICISED Sean Woodward
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MUNCHING on a banana during a crunch meeting has led to a row in which a council leader has been accused of ‘showing no respect’ for residents.

Fareham Borough Council’s Sean Woodward was seen scoffing the fruit during a debate over the running of the new Portchester Community Centre, which is expected to open before the end of the year.

COMPLAINT Stella Bell

COMPLAINT Stella Bell

Stella Bell, who supported the bid by the Portchester Community Association which was rejected in favour of Portchester Community School, has now made an official complaint to the council about the top Tory’s snacking.

She says it breached the councillors’ code of conduct on the grounds of honesty and integrity and respect for others.

Mrs Bell, a volunteer at the centre, said: ‘At the start of the meeting I could see that he was eating.

‘About five minutes into the meeting I watched in horror as he peeled a banana and was breaking off small pieces and then bending his head down from time-to-time to pop pieces in his mouth.

‘This appalling behaviour shows contempt for the people of Portchester.

‘If I had known it was OK for the leader of the council to eat a banana whilst conducting a meeting, I would have brought a picnic with me.

‘Councillors are not the only people with working lives and evening commitments.

‘I am sure, like me, the many residents who struggled to get to this meeting by 5pm would have welcomed the opportunity of snacking after the meeting had started.

‘We would not do so out of respect and would have thought that councillors would have treated members of the public with the same courtesy.’

Cllr Woodward defended his actions during the meeting.

He told The News: ‘We extended every courtesy to the deputees at the meeting, which I called to be held in public, when we were going to do it in private.’

Replying to Mrs Bell’s complaint, Fareham Borough Council’s monitoring officer, Garry White, said in a letter: ‘I am of the opinion that simply by eating, in this case a banana, at the meeting does not breach the provisions and requirements of the code.

‘I was at the meeting and I’m satisfied that everyone, including all the deputees were treated fairly and with respect and dignity.’