A town council meeting on youth outreach was held in private to allow councillors “to voice their views”, according to the council’s leader.

Woodley Town councillors were voting on whether to renew a contract with Just Around the Corner (JAC) to provide youth outreach services.

They decided to extend the contract by just one year and run a survey to find out what young people need.

Lib Dem Woodley Town councillor Martin Doyle, co-spokesman for the 'Woodley needs a Youth Centre' campaign, said the meeting should have been held in public.

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Councillor Keith Baker, leader of Woodley Town Council, revealed the reason behind taking the decision in a meeting closed to the public in an exclusive interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Discussing the January 21 Strategy & Resources meeting, Cllr Baker said: “It was confidential to allow individual councillors to voice their view”.

“If we make the decision in public some councillors will not be willing to be forthright. Some people won’t say what they think in public.”

He added: “It is because they were discussing something which might have financial impact on a third party. It is only when finances are involved. They could be vilified for having those views.

“For example, if decisions were misreported and the stock market value went down that would leave the council open to legal challenge.”

The town councillors then confirmed their decisions in the public part of the meeting.

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Labour councillor Nada Al-Sanjari, who is writing the survey and also calling for a youth centre, said: "As elected councillors, we should be transparent and not conceal important views from the public.

"This is not democratic. It is wrong to hide behind closed doors. Our duty is to serve the public, not the business interests of third parties.

"We aren’t here to conceal truths from the public in order to protect the sticks and shares of a company that is in receipt of public money."

Lib Dem town councillor Martin Doyle, a member of the Strategy & Resources committee,  said: "I asked why it was confidential. I was told “because it is”.

He added: "There was nothing that was not already in the public domain"

“If they want to talk about something without the public being aware they say it is confidential.”

Woodley Town Council has had a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) agreement with JAC since 2001 to run youth outreach youth work in the town.

The town council is now looking to consult Woodley residents to find out what young people want or need for the first time in almost 20 years.

Cllr Doyle is calling for a new youth centre but leader Cllr Baker said this "is not wanted anymore".