Police Called on Protesters at Knowsley Council Meeting

By on Friday, December 18, 2015

greenbelt_protesters_whiston[Edit 05/01/16: KMBC’s official video of the proceedings added below – scroll to bottom.]

A Knowsley Council meeting was postponed after the council called police to remove members of the public.

The public meeting was for councillors to discuss and vote on Knowsley’s Local Plan, which controversially allows developers to build houses on once-protected greenbelt sites.

The council insists the plan is necessary to meet government housing targets, but protesters say the move will harm the environment and that the borough’s towns don’t have the resources or facilities to cope with an influx of new residents.

A campaign against the plan has received support from residents borough-wide, including in Whiston and Prescot (campaigners pictured at an earlier public meeting).

At the meeting on Tuesday 16 December, several residents stood to object and ask questions, but the Mayor of Knowsley, Cllr Edna Finneran, told them to sit down, saying questions were allowed only if they had been submitted in advance.

cllr-edna-finneranWhen protesters continued speaking, Cllr Finneran (pictured) quickly drew the meeting to a close.

As the Mayor and other cabinet members left the chamber, one angry resident told councillors, “You know very well that if you vote against it you get chucked out the door. There’s no democracy or free speech. Why don’t you have a free vote? Because it’s already been decided.”

He was likely alluding to the fact that all elected council members are Labour, making Knowsley one of the few boroughs in England controlled 100-percent by a single party, meaning there is no official opposition.

As others told departing councillors, “Shame on you,” the man continued: “It’s too important for people, babies unborn, for all our greenbelt to go. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

“You work for us, remember,” another protester called out. “You don’t listen to the public, do you?”

The council called police, who spoke with councillors, officers and protesters.

Prescot Online readers can judge for themselves what they think of the protesters’ conduct in the video below, supplied by Huyton Times TV. The altercation begins at approximately 2:15.

Asked why the police were called, an unnamed KMBC spokesperson told Prescot Online that “the council was concerned about disorder and the safety of those present.”

They added: “In accordance with the council’s Constitution, people were able to submit questions in advance of the meeting and some of these questions were about the Local Plan. The meeting will be reconvened early in the New Year.”

Below: Video of the proceedings from a different angle (KMBC).

The main image shows members of the Save Whiston’s
Greenbelt campaign at an earlier protest, in 2015


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