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Police Called to Meeting of Newby & Scalby Town Council

Friday, 23 February 2024 06:00

By Anttoni James Numminen, Local Democracy Reporter

Police were called to a council meeting near Scarborough after tempers ran high over a disagreement about public participation.

North Yorkshire Police were called to a meeting of the Newby and Scalby Town Council last Wednesday (Feb 14) following an apparent disagreement about letting members of the public take part in an “open forum”.

According to those present, residents at the meeting “refused to budge” after being told that they could not ask questions about cuts to local services.

Councillor Subash Sharma, who represents Newby on North Yorkshire Council (NYC), said:

“The police were called because the [town] council decided to remove the open forum where ordinary individuals could make their opinions known and ask questions, which really angered everyone.”

North Yorkshire Police confirmed that it was called to the meeting but that “no offences were recorded” and that the “issues remain a matter for the council”.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) could not reach Richard Thompson, the chair, or the clerk of Newby and Scalby Town Council for a comment on the meeting.

Councillor Derek Bastiman, vice chair of the town council and also an executive member of North Yorkshire Council, declined to comment on the matter.

Reg Towse, a former chair of the town council who was also present at the meeting, said that

“there was no open forum for the public to ask questions and that really upset people”.

Mr Towse told the LDRS that he and other residents wanted to ask questions “about the loss of local facilities”.

Councillor Sharma, who represents the area on NYC, said:

“What we’re concerned about is that facilities such as bereavement, dementia, menopause and so many other services have been withdrawn.”

He also raised the issue at a full meeting of North Yorkshire Council on Wednesday (Feb 21), stating that the town council had “spiralled into chaos and self-destruction”.

The chair of NYC, Councillor Carl Les, said he believed the authority’s “monitoring officer is investigating” certain incidents regarding the town council, but did not refer to any specific events.

Describing the events of the town council meeting, Councillor Sharma said he had

“started a group within it to talk about what was happening and I was told to keep quiet”.

“I told them that they could abandon or discontinue the meeting, defer it to another day, or call the police, and I was chucked out because we weren’t going to leave and we were not going to be quiet.”

Councillor Sharma added:

“[The councillors] left the room and phoned the police from the offices. All we were asking for was some 15 minutes of an open forum so we could ask questions.”

North Yorkshire Police told the LDRS:

“On arrival, an officer spoke to members of the public and council members to try to resolve the incident.

“A short time later, members of the public left the building. No offences were recorded and the issues remain a matter for the council.”

 

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