£1,500 coun­cil se­cu­rity bill af­ter protests at meet­ings

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - NEWS -

A pri­vate se­cu­rity firm was paid £1,500 by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil to help keep the peace at last week’s full coun­cil meet­ing.

The se­cu­rity guards joined po­lice for the meet­ing which had been post­poned for seven days af­ter protesters in the pub­lic gallery had dis­rupted pro­ceed­ings a week ear­lier.

The protesters re­turned on Wed­nes­day last week to de­mand the res­ig­na­tion of Cllr Andy Coles fol­low­ing the air­ing of a Chan­nel 4 in­ves­ti­ga­tion which claimed he had a re­la­tion­ship with a young ac­tivist while work­ing as an un­der­cover of­fi­cer, but they were un­able to re­turn to the pub­lic gallery in the coun­cil cham­ber as it was shut for the meet­ing.

In­stead, a live stream was put on in the coun­cil’s Bourges/Viersen Room, although only a hand­ful of peo­ple watched the de­bate in there.

A coun­cil spokes­woman said the se­cu­rity guards were used “to en­sure the safety of the pub­lic and mem­bers and to en­sure that the le­git­i­mate demo­cratic pro­cesses of the coun­cil could take place.”

She added: “We have no plans to use a se­cu­rity firm on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, but it is some­thing we would con­sider if there was a need.”

Cllr Coles was pre­vi­ously Deputy Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner for Cam­bridgeshire but re­signed from that role fol­low­ing the air­ing of a Chan­nel 4 in­ves­ti­ga­tion which claimed he had a re­la­tion­ship with a young ac­tivist while work­ing as an un­der­cover of­fi­cer.

The coun­cil em­ployed 15 se­cu­rity per­son­nel for the meet­ing which lasted ap­prox­i­mately two-and-a-half hours.

Due to the se­cu­rity, parts of the Town Hall were cor­doned off. Sev­eral po­lice of­fi­cers were also present. Asked why se­cu­rity was needed when po­lice were at­tend­ing, the coun­cil spokes­woman said po­lice were there to en­sure there were no pub­lic or­der of­fences.

She added: “The role of the se­cu­rity of­fi­cers was en­tirely dif­fer­ent. Their role was to check the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of peo­ple en­ter­ing the Town Hall on the night and en­sure that only mem­bers and the me­dia were al­lowed ac­cess into the coun­cil cham­ber and that all other mem­bers of the pub­lic were shown to a nearby room where they could watch a live stream of the meet­ing.

“It would have been un­rea­son­able for us to ex­pect the po­lice to pick up this el­e­ment.”

The meet­ing was also live streamed on Face­book for the first time, and the idea could be re­peated in the fu­ture.

Se­cu­rity guards in­side the Town Hall

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