LEOMINSTER residents aired their frustration at not being allowed to ask questions during a public Herefordshire Council meeting.

The council’s leaders hosted their cabinet meeting at the town’s library on November 27 and were greeted with a packed audience.

But residents criticised the lack of information about public participation.

Speaking at the meeting, council leader David Hitchiner said: “Members of the public are allowed to ask questions but they have to provide it in writing a certain number of days before the meeting.

“And then the reply is also given in writing so that the members have the question and reply both available on the internet.

“They are then allowed to ask a supplementary question.”

A member of the public intervened and said the public should have been informed properly.

He said: “I find it exceptionally remiss that no notice was given that this meeting would only accept written questions.

“There was no suggestion on any publicity material that I had which suggested that we could not express our opinions in the meeting.”

The public supported these views with cries of ‘hear, hear’ and a round of applause.

Coun Hitchiner explained that the rules were set out in the council’s constitution which is on their website.

“My point is it was not in the publicity which I received,” he said.

“I was only told I could attend the meeting. I didn’t even know I could ask a question,” the man interjected.

“I can’t ask a question but I thought that should have been made clear in the publicity.

“If you want the public to be involved you’ve got to enable them to be involved in the most democratic way.”

Coun Hitchiner said it was a fair comment and would make sure it is made clear at the next public meeting.

Roger Utley, a fellow resident, said the meeting was interesting but they should have let us ask questions.

“We thought the meeting was for people to ask questions. I thought to myself, what am I doing here?

“There were a lot of other people stood behind who got up and left.

“There’s a few things you want to get off your chest and the council didn’t seem to want to do anything.”