Events at the Shire Hall have been “more Macbeth than Monmouth”, says Cllr Mat Feakins, but for him it’s closer to Kafka.

Feakins recently chaired a committee meeting called for 2pm, even though Standing Order 3w says “A meeting shall not start before 6pm”; unsurprisingly nearly half the committee couldn’t attend.

On the agenda were two items from which it was proposed to exclude the public. Neither was remotely controversial. One was to do with an Armed Forces Covenant grant and the other was about advertising a new part-time post in the clerk’s office and the procedure for selection. In perhaps a Freudian slip, Feakins declared without any suggestion of discussion or the required vote: “So I ask members of the press and public if they would mind leaving us.” 

I demurred and in the ensuing discussion (which Feakins tried to prevent, but was outvoted), Gerry Bright, chairman of the Royal British Legion in Monmouth, told the meeting: “I see no reason at all for the members of the public to be excluded [from the grant discussion].” Similarly, Cllr Anthea Dewhurst. 

Feakins argued for exclusion “to allow us to have a free and open discussion”, as if that is not how the council operates when the public is present. He then lumped both items together into one vote to corner the waverers and won.

All I can say to the voters of Overmonnow is that if Kafka’s your cup of tea, then Mat’s your man.

Actually, he may be more Alice than Franz. On Monday, the agenda spoke of going into private session “for the following item” (read out by Feakins as “items”). Put on the spot he brazenly stated that the following four items (concerning totally unrelated subjects) counted as one for the purposes of going into secret session. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

Charles Boase