£1,500 council security bill after protests at meetings
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