North Yorkshire councillor accused of sleeping in meeting

Picture which appears to show Coun Chris Pearson asleep in a fire authority meeting on June 24, 2015

Picture which appears to show Coun Chris Pearson asleep in a fire authority meeting on June 24, 2015

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A North Yorkshire County Councillor has denied nodding off during crucial talks about the future of North Yorkshire’s fire service, despite a member of public snapping him with his eyes closed.

On Wednesday (June 24) authority members at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service voted for the service’s latest Fire Cover Review, which includes controversial cutbacks, to go to public consultation.

During the meeting, Bedale resident Ian Watkins noticed that one of the County Councillors appeared ‘to be in the land of nod’ with his eyes closed and took a photo of Coun Chris Pearson (Con, Mid Selby).

Coun Pearson has refuted claims he fell asleep. He said: “I was not asleep, it was very warm in there at the time, I was listening closely to what the fire chief was saying.

“I refute that I was asleep, it was very hot and I had my suit on but I was conscious throughout the meeting.”

Mr Watkins, a former fire fighter, has written to North Yorkshire County Council’s monitoring officer, Barry Khan, questioning if the vote is valid.

He said: “These are hugely important issues they are voting through, I know the state the fire service is in.

“There was much laughter from the public watching the meeting, perhaps they need to have a break during the meetings.”

However Coun Pearson insisted he took the meeting seriously and said: “I agree with what the fire authority are doing, times have changed, we have to do things differently.”