Po­lice ad­vice shut pub­lic gallery

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - YOUR VIEWS -

The de­ci­sion to close the pub­lic gallery was made fol­low­ing a Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil meeting on 19 July be­cause of a sig­nif­i­cant dis­tur­bance which made it im­pos­si­ble for the coun­cil to con­duct im­por­tant busi­ness, in­clud­ing the ap­proval of a plan to tackle crime and dis­or­der in the city.

Be­fore the meeting was ad­journed, an at­tempt to clear the pub­lic gallery was made by coun­cil of­fi­cers, as­sisted by the po­lice. This was un­suc­cess­ful due to the dis­tur­bances tak­ing place. Fol­low­ing the ad­journ­ment, the

po­lice voiced con­cerns about the safety of the pub­lic gallery. Specif­i­cally, if any fur­ther dis­tur­bances were to take place, the cur­rent lay­out and de­sign of the pub­lic gallery made it un­safe to at­tempt to clear the area. Hav­ing re­ceived this ad­vice, the pub­lic gallery was tem­po­rar­ily closed. Since then, a full sur­vey has been un­der­taken and we have com­mis­sioned a struc­tural en­gi­neer to make im­prove­ments. It is ex­pected the pub­lic gallery

will re­open in the next few months. Pub­lic at­tend- ance is wel­comed at coun­cil meet­ings, whether to sup­port, protest or sim­ply to ob­serve pro­ceed­ings. How­ever, when a protest or other ac­tions leads to the dis­tur­bance of a meeting to the ex­tent where busi­ness can­not be con­ducted, our rules of pro­ce­dure re­quire us to re­move any in­di­vid­ual(s) caus­ing that dis­tur­bance. It is vi­tal this can be done, while en­sur­ing the safety of all.

In the mean­time, we have made ar­range­ments for the pub­lic to view the pro­ceed­ings live via a video link to the Bourges Room in the Town Hall or to view the dis­cus­sions and de­bate via Face­book Live.

This has proved in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar and has made Full Coun­cil ac­ces­si­ble to a far greater num­ber of residents who would other­wise be un­able to at­tend each meeting and each video is avail­able to watch again, rather than just

at a set time and day.

The av­er­age num­ber of views for each meeting is over 5,000, far more than we could ac­tu­ally fit in the pub­lic gallery. Due to the suc­cess of the live record­ings we will be propos­ing to keep this ser­vice once the pub­lic gallery is open again. Spokes­woman Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil

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