OUT OF ORDER! Council meeting suspended after verbal warnings

Caistor Town Hall, where the town council meets EMN-170815-172104001
Caistor Town Hall, where the town council meets EMN-170815-172104001

Caistor Town Council was forced to suspend last week’s meeting after members of the public repeatedly interrupted proceedings.

It was the proposed installation of CCTV in the town’s Market Place that proved to be a hot topic.

Before the start of every meeting, a public forum gives residents the opportunity to speak on town issues.

Once the council meeting itself starts, only councillors are free to speak.

During last week’s public forum, resident and former town councillor Mike Stockwood queried the worth of the proposed CCTV cameras and recalled the previous system.

He said: “Last time Caistor Council installed CCTV, it never complied with regulations.

“This time, there is a lack of information - there is a lack of consultation with businesses or residents and no crime statistics.”

Also from the public floor, fellow former councillor Andre Wilkin expressed concern over the council’s finances.

However, Mr Stockwood and Mr Wilkin’s comments were not confined to the open session and they continued to comment through the council meeting and in particular during the CCTV agenda item.

On more than three occasions, council chairman Coun Alan Somerscales reminded the two men of the regulations and finally asked them to leave.

After they refused, the meeting was suspended and the agenda moved on to the planned closed session.

That meant only councillors could remain, with the press and members of the public excluded.

Town clerk Helen Pitman told the Rasen Mail that after consultation with the chairman, she did not wish to comment specifically on last week’s meeting.

Instead, she issued a statement on regulations at council meetings.

It said: “Under the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, Caistor Town Council allows members of the public to ask questions or make short statements to council.

“However, once the meeting commences, press or public are not allowed to interrupt proceedings. Should anyone, either a member of council or the public, disturb a meeting they may be required by resolution to withdraw if a request that has previously been made to desist has been ignored.

“An offender who refuses to obey the resolution may be removed by force. Any interruption by the public is technically a disturbance.”

The council has confirmed CCTV will be back on the agenda at its monthly meeting in September.