Saturday, 16 January 2016

Knowsley Council issue statement on 'banning members of the public'.

Knowsley Council has issued a statement: "Council confirms stance on conduct at public meetings", in regard to the letters they have sent to a number of Knowsley residents, informing them that they are banned from Council meetings for six months.

The statement begins:
"Following disruption at two recent Council meetings, Knowsley Council has confirmed it is taking action to ban a small number of individuals from future public meetings.

After taking statements from attendees and reviewing CCTV and video footage, the Council is excluding six individuals.
Note: I was an attendee at this meeting. I have not made a statement. Nor have I been asked to make a statement by Knowsley Council. Out of all of the residents who also attended this meeting, none of them have been asked to make a statement.
"The evidence showed that the behaviour of these people was disruptive, abusive and/or aggressive and therefore in breach of the standards of behaviour expected at Council meetings. All have been excluded with immediate effect from Council meetings for a period of 6 months, at which time the situation will be reviewed."
Note: I saw residents who were understandably angry and frustrated at the way the Council have dealt with the whole local plan issue. I did not see any residents who were abusive or aggressive. The 'standards of behaviour' that I expect from a Council and their employees was not met in my view, and was more of a criminal standard. The video evidence also shows that a number of Knowsley residents attending the meeting were assaulted by Council security and told they were not allowed to film, as they entered the building before the meeting started. VIDEO LINK
"Councillor Andy Moorhead, the Leader of Knowsley Council, commented:
We welcome reasoned debate and discussion and we know that there will be occasions when our decisions or proposals may meet with opposition from some residents. That is what democracy is all about. But what democracy is not about is allowing people to behave in a way that is simply aimed at disrupting meetings and stopping legitimate Council business from taking place.
Note: Democracy, is "a system of government in which all of the people are involved in making decisions about its affairs". I have not yet, met anyone (apart from Knowsley Councillors and Council Officers) who would agree that this issue has been the subject of "reasoned debate and discussion", or that all of the people were involved in making this decision, far from it. The Council have held token Public consultations and hearings, where members of the Public have given many many compelling reasons why this plan is flawed. The Council and Government Inspector pretend to listen and then go ahead with their plan regardless, and against the wishes of the majority of Knowsley residents. THIS IS NOT democracy. Far from it. Many Councillors have used the mantra that they, "had no choice". But if this is true, then it just confirms the view that the local plan was done and dusted long before the consultations, hearings and voting took place.
"Furthermore, behaviour which is aggressive, intimidating and at times directly threatening and abusive to Council staff, Councillors and other members of the public will simply not be tolerated."
Note: Why was the aggressive, intimidating and directly threatening behaviour of Council security guards tolerated then? A number of Council staff, Leader Andy Moorehead included, as well as two Police Officers, were informed of this behaviour and of the assaults on members of the Public, but this was ignored. I class this as abuse.
"After the Council meeting shortly before Christmas had to be adjourned because of disruption, we decided to reconvene it in order to give people another chance to come along and take part in a constructive and reasoned manner."
Note: This is completely untrue. One member of the Public tried to ask a question that he had not submitted in writing before the meeting, so the Council adjourned the meeting. There was NO disruption. VIDEO LINK

It is also untrue to say that, "we decided to reconvene it in order to give people another chance to come along and take part in a constructive and reasoned manner". The Council promised that questions could be asked at the reconvened meeting, but they reneged on this promise. So people were NOT given a chance to 'take part' in any way, shape or form.

"Unfortunately, a small number of people took this as an opportunity to continue the same behaviour which they demonstrated in December. In fact, it was even worse this time. We are now left with little choice but to take action not only to ensure that future meetings can proceed without disruption but also so that staff, Councillors and indeed other members of the public can attend without fear for their own personal safety and wellbeing."
Note: Very much a libelous comment. As stated, and as the video shows, there was no disruption at the meeting on Dec 16th. So, the people who have been accused of this have a case to sue Council Leader for his comments here. It actually beggars belief the arrogance of this man. I was assaulted by a security guard, I told Andy Moorehead this, and he shrugged his shoulders, and he has the bare faced cheek to talk about people 'fearing for their own personal safety". I was genuinely concerned for my personal safety long before the meeting had started, by the behaviour of staff employed by the Council he is a leader of and this man did not care one bit. It's easy to see how his comments now are disingenuous.
"Whilst this is a regrettable situation, people have a right to attend our meetings without fear for their safety, so we simply have no other option than to proceed with these exclusion notices for small number of individuals. We are also undertaking a full review of our processes and procedures to ensure that future Council meetings can be conducted in a professional and courteous way.”
Note: What is Andy going to do to ensure my safety at future meetings from Knowsley Council security? Is he going to apologise for what happened? Is he going to take similar action on the security guards involved?

Knowsley Council have no powers or jurisdiction to exclude members of the Public from Council meetings, apart from regulation 4 of The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations. Only the Police can arrest an individual for 'disrupting' a Council meeting, and only then, at the time and on seeing the disruptive behaviour for him or herself.

The Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 PART 2


Admission of public to meetings of local authority executives and their committees states that:

Meetings of local authority executives and their committees to be held in public

3. Subject to regulation 4, a meeting of a decision-making body must be held in public.
Admission of the public to meetings of local authority executives and their committees

4.—(1) A meeting of a decision-making body must be open to the public except to the extent that the public are excluded under paragraph (2).

(2) The public must be excluded from a meeting during an item of business whenever—

(a) it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during that item, confidential information would be disclosed to them in breach of the obligation of confidence;

(b) the decision-making body concerned passes a resolution to exclude the public during that item where it is likely, in view of the nature of the item of business, that if members of the public were present during that item, exempt information would be disclosed to them;
or
(c) a lawful power is used to exclude a member or members of the public in order to maintain orderly conduct or prevent misbehaviour at a meeting.

(3) A resolution under paragraph (2)(b) must–—
(a) identify the proceedings, or the part of the proceedings to which it applies, and
(b) state, by reference to the descriptions in Schedule 12A to the 1972 Act (access to information: exempt information), the description of exempt information giving rise to the exclusion of the public.

(4) The public may only be excluded under sub-paragraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (2) for the part or parts of the meeting during which it is likely that confidential information or exempt information would be disclosed.

(5) Without prejudice to any power of exclusion to suppress or prevent disorderly conduct or other misbehaviour at a meeting, the decision-making body is not to have the power to exclude members of the public from a meeting while it is open to the public.

(6) While the meeting is open to the public, any person attending the meeting for the purpose of reporting the proceedings is, so far as practicable, to be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report.

To conclude, the only legal reasons under which Knowsley Council can exclude members of the Public is if:

(a) it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during that item, confidential information would be disclosed to them in breach of the obligation of confidence;
or
(b) the decision-making body concerned passes a resolution to exclude the public during that item where it is likely, in view of the nature of the item of business, that if members of the public were present during that item, exempt information would be disclosed to them;
or
(c) a "lawful power" is used to exclude a member or members of the public in order to maintain orderly conduct or prevent misbehaviour at a meeting.


2 comments:

  1. Stand under Ch.61 Magna Carta 1215 and you have a right and obligation under common law and constitutional law to disrupt any meeting with lawful impunity - moreover you can seize the building (lawfully) like we did with Glastonbury town hall. The police were called, they came, they were put on notice of Ch.61 and they left without taking action because they had no authority to breach their oath of office or the constitution.

    http://lawfulrebellion.info/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, indeed this has been considered and it is very possible that this action may become a distinct possibility.

    ReplyDelete