WATCH: Councillor under fire after being caught using phone throughout meeting
CONCERNS have been raised about a councillor who spent a '˜complex' council meeting looking at his phone.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Clive Foster-Reed was seen using his phone throughout a Gosport Borough Council planning meeting on May 30, leading to other councillors questioning how seriously he was taking it.
Councillors from both the Conservative and Labour parties say that councillors are forbidden from using their phones at meetings, and have voiced their disappointment about the issue.
The meeting of the Regulatory Board saw a number of planning applications go before the council – lasting four and a half hours.
Among the items being discussed were more flats being built in Mumby Road, and an extension to Hazeldene care home in Bury Road.
Conservative Cllr Lynn Hook said: ‘It was such a complex meeting and nobody should have been on their phones at it.
‘It isn’t a breach of any rules but it is very inconsiderate.
‘It’s incredibly disappointing that something like this has happened in what was a very mentally demanding council meeting.
‘As a councillor you are there to represent the residents of your ward and if you can’t bother to do so then maybe you should send someone else to the meeting instead.’
Labour Cllr Keith Farr said: ‘It’s not normal protocol for councillors to spend the meeting looking down at their phone – in fact, all phones should be switched off.
‘I know it was a long meeting but we did have a recess in the middle, so there’s no excuse for him to have been using it.
‘It feels to me like he wasn’t paying attention and I’m really not happy about that. You’re there for the people of Gosport so shouldn’t be spending your time on a mobile phone – it’s not on.’
Cllr Foster-Reed was unavailable for comment, but leader of the Liberal Democrats in Gosport Cllr Peter Chegwyn has dismissed the criticisms, saying that it is commonplace for councillors to use their phones.
He said: ‘It’s no different to what you see at Hampshire County Council – councillors are often on their mobile phones during meetings.
‘I wasn’t at the meeting so wasn’t aware of this but frankly all councillors look at their phones in council meetings.
‘It sounds like a storm in a teacup from people with nothing better to talk about.
‘In a four-and-a-half hour meeting it’s hardly the most heinous crime one could commit.’