Council confirms stance on conduct at public meetings

Published on: Thursday, 14-January-2016

Following disruption at two recent Council meetings, Knowsley Council has confirmed it is taking action to ban a small number of individuals from future public meetings.

After taking statements from attendees and reviewing CCTV and video footage, the Council is excluding six individuals. The evidence showed that the behaviour of these people was disruptive, abusive and/or aggressive and therefore in breach of the standards of behaviour expected at Council meetings.  All have been excluded with immediate effect from Council meetings for a period of 6 months, at which time the situation will be reviewed.

Councillor Andy Moorhead, the Leader of Knowsley Council, commented:

“We welcome reasoned debate and discussion and we know that there will be occasions when our decisions or proposals may meet with opposition from some residents.  That is what democracy is all about.  But what democracy is not about is allowing people to behave in a way that is simply aimed at disrupting meetings and stopping legitimate Council business from taking place.  Furthermore, behaviour which is aggressive, intimidating and at times directly threatening and abusive to Council staff, Councillors and other members of the public will simply not be tolerated.

After the Council meeting shortly before Christmas had to be adjourned because of disruption, we decided to reconvene it in order to give people another chance to come along and take part in a constructive and reasoned manner.  Unfortunately, a small number of people took this as an opportunity to continue the same behaviour which they demonstrated in December.  In fact, it was even worse this time.  We are now left with little choice but to take action not only to ensure that future meetings can proceed without disruption but also so that staff, Councillors and indeed other members of the public can attend without fear for their own personal safety and wellbeing.

Whilst this is a regrettable situation, people have a right to attend our meetings without fear for their safety, so we simply have no other option than to proceed with these exclusion notices for small number of individuals.  We are also undertaking a full review of our processes and procedures to ensure that future Council meetings can be conducted in a professional and courteous way.”