ANDOVER Town Council has come under fire for excluding the general public and press whilst it selected its new members behind closed doors.

Two councillors were drafted onto the authority on Wednesday night in a process known as co-opting, where representatives are selected rather than elected.

But fellow councillors and members of the public were outraged when they were ejected from the meeting for the selection to take place confidentially.

The public are generally invited to hear the pitches of those standing to be councillors, but during the meeting, held on Zoom, a vote was taken to remove the public and put them into a breakout room.

Borough Councillor Nick Matthews said that the decision “goes against everything that councils are meant to stand for”.

He said: “I think it’s a disgrace. I’m genuinely stunned. There’s no justification for that and I think it’s disgusting.”

But Mayor of Andover, Cllr Richard Rowles, defended the move by saying it was “just a procedural thing as we’ve never done it on Zoom before”.

He told the Advertiser: “It’s a bit different to how it’s been before but we’ve never had to do a co-option on Zoom before.”

Also in this week’s paper:

- Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Peacocks at risk as owner says it intends to file for administration

- Sheepfayre shopkeeper pays tribute as he retires

- Andover county lines supplier jailed

- Owl disappears from Hawk Conservancy Centre

- Restored war memorial rededicated

- Stolen Wherwell dog spoken about in Parliament

- Kit Malthouse’s monthly column

- Andover Town into the quarter finals of the Wessex League Cup

- Two pages of YOUR letters

- And much, much more

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