Councillors sleeping in child services meeting 'an embarrassment'

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Media captionPoliticians were caught napping during an important meeting

The chairman of a meeting in which four councillors were filmed apparently dozing during has described their actions as "embarrassing".

The debate, on Thursday, was discussing "serious and widespread failures" in Gloucestershire's children's service.

Cllr Shaun Parsons, chairman of the council, said members had been told the proceedings were being televised.

Two said they had been listening, one blamed medication, but the fourth admitted the meetings "drag a bit".

Mr Parsons said he believed the chairman's role is to make sure the meeting runs smoothly and efficiently but added it is not his place to "give councillors a nudge".

But the former MP for Stroud, Neil Carmichael disagreed. He said it was "wrong" that councillors fell asleep "during such an important meeting on such a critical subject".

"As chairman of the Commons Select Committee I felt it was very much my job to ensure that meetings were run briskly and that all those present were fully engaged throughout," the Conservative said.

'Most unfortunate'

Four councillors were spotted nodding off, including deputy leader, Conservative Ray Theodoulou who blamed his heart medication for making him "a little drowsy".

Fellow Tory Rob Bird said he may have "closed his eyes for a moment", while Liberal Democrat John Cordwell admitted he "might have nodded off very briefly". Both men insisted they were aware of the proceedings.

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Media captionOne shopper in Gloucester city centre called it "quite worrying"

But Labour's Graham Morgan was more forthright though, stating: "Those meetings drag a bit and I'm 66."

Mr Parsons said although he had not seen the BBC film it was important to listen to what the councillors had said in mitigation.

"It was a very long day, people had been briefed quite considerably on the facts.

"But it's not a good appearance for people maybe to have been asleep or indeed nodding off... , it's most unfortunate."

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