Powys Council is seeking legal advice over whether its decision to declare a climate emergency should stand after it was found that another vote which paved the way for the motion was wrongly counted.

The motion to declare an emergency was brought forward by Liberal Democrat councillors Jake Berriman and Jackie Charlton – and eventually approved after an extensive debate – at a full council meeting on Thursday, July 30.

But before the motion was put to a vote, another motion to refer the declaration to a working group so costs could be considered was held – and it has now emerged that the outcome of this vote was miscounted.

The motion, proposed by Conservative Cllr Amanda Jenner after criticism of the declaration by Tory cabinet members Cllr Aled Davies and James Evans – was tied at 28 apiece, with two abstentions.

Council chairman Cllr Beverley Baynham used her casting vote against the referral, allowing the vote on the climate emergency declaration to proceed.

But now it has emerged that the first motion should have succeeded – which would have stopped the actual climate emergency vote from taking place at all. On the day, it passed by 29 votes to 20, with four abstentions.

Powys County Council chief executive Dr Caroline Turner has told councillors of the "unprecedented" situation and at the moment the minutes, the official record for the meeting has not been published.

County Times:

Dr Caroline Turner

Dr Turner said: “A mistake was made in counting the vote.

“Whilst most were able to vote electronically on the referral  motion some were unable to do so, and they were all asked by the chair of council to give their vote verbally.

“A mistake was made in counting and combining the electronic and verbal votes, and the vote was wrongly declared at the meeting.”

Dr Turner explained that the error had been found while going through the votes and an extra vote for the referral had been found.

Dr Turner added: “This is an unprecedented and unusual situation, and for this reason I will seek independent legal advice on whether the vote declared by the chair during the council meeting should stand, or whether the correct list of votes as compiled for the minutes should stand.”

Depending on the legal advice, the climate emergency motion could be declared null and void.

The council's monitoring officer, Clive Pinney will also be asked to find out how the mistake happened and what arrangements are needed to make sure it does not occur again.

Dr Turner hopes the legal advice will be given so that a decision can be made before the next full council meeting which is due to take place on Thursday, September 24.