A long-standing rule that town councillors must stand up when they speak in meetings has been scrapped.

The Liberal Democrats have abolished the concept at the annual meeting on Tuesday, May 16, as their first motion as the ruling group on Didcot Town Council

Council leader Chris Jennings said the standing order was ‘archaic’ and not inclusive.

However, Labour councillor Mocky Khan argued the party should have passed something more significant as its first motion.

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The Lib Dems have control of the council for the first time ever following the local elections on May 4 when 12 of its candidates were elected to the 21 seats available.

Eight seats were won by Labour and one by the Conservatives – although the Tory councillor has failed to sign the required paperwork which means a by-election is now imminent.

Oxford Mail: Councillor Chris Jennings Councillor Chris Jennings (Image: Chris Jennings)

As the new council met for the annual meeting on Tuesday, May 16, Cllr Jennings proposed a motion that would allow councillors to remain seated when they made a point.

He said: “It makes me very nervous having to stand up every time, and it’s not inclusive to expect everybody to be able to stand up.”

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The motion was seconded by Cllr Hugh Macdonald – who described the requirement as ‘rather unusual’ – and it was passed with 13 votes.

Cllr Jennings told the Herald Series: “For me personally, it wasn’t the big issue of the day.

"Our party is all about inclusivity and about being able to open up meetings as much as possible.

“It was one thing we could achieve quickly without wasting time.

“I just felt that to keep jumping up and down just looks comical. It was archaic. It’s like you’re in school when the headteacher comes in.

“People in the public aren’t interested in people standing up and whatever else. What they are interested in is people being included.

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“We have got some older people on the council and so have Labour.

“I’m a big advocate of inclusivity and we want the town to work together, and we want the council to take a new direction.”

Cllr Khan, who was previous leader of the council, said: “If I was to make a stand and make an impression that lasts then I would have gone for a much greater motion to show this is what my term will be like.

“People will remember them now as the first people to get rid of standing up.

“I thought there would have been more important areas to make their first impact, such as a focus on lack of infrastructure or health provisions or on the climate.”