A window on our democracy: Tory Councillors in Lancashire

Here is an account of a Lancashire County Council Meeting meeting, that happened on the 17th February, 2011. It shows quite clearly the contempt many councillors feel toward the people they pretend to serve.

Hi All,

Just got back from the county council meeting.  We had an excellent turnout from Lancaster. The lobby which was well attended included a vocal group of parents of disabled children protesting against closures of respite centres.

Before the meeting we were told that only 40 people could sit in the public gallery with a further 60 seated in an adjoining room to watch the meeting on a video link. We were initially told that the public gallery could only hold 50 people and a limit of 40 had been placed for health and safety reasons after some heated debate we were informed that the gallery could actually hold 140 but we were still only allowed 40 people. All banners and placards were taken of us and our bags searched perhaps they were scared we were Egyptians.

The chair (Tory Councillor) opened the meeting by asking us to be quiet and to enjoy the debate; I have to ask myself what planet do these people live on.  The leader of the county council Tory Geoff Driver spoke predictably about the cuts being a consequence of Labour mismanagement, he went onto talk in some detail about respite care at which point a concerned parent from the gallery stood up and asked if she could put a question to him. She believed that it was her democratic right to ask her elected representatives a question related to the care of her child, she was told that if she did not leave the chamber she would be arrested. She left but can hold her head up high unlike those who represent her. A pattern was then set which saw Driver interrupted from the gallery a number of times on each occasion the meeting was stopped and the chair requested that the person doing the heckling be asked to leave or be arrested. There were many seasoned campaigners in the gallery who would not be intimidated so the meeting continued without any evictions from the gallery.

At the end of his speech Driver received a round of applause from Tory councillors which was drowned out by those in the gallery. The leader of the Labour Group was asked to respond as she started to speak Driver and the chief executive sat laughing and eating mints, their contempt for democracy was evident to everyone. The labour leader was only 10 minutes into her speech when she was asked to sum up this despite the fact that Geoff Driver was given 45 minutes to justify the cuts. It was at this point that the noise grew in the gallery and the chair stopped the meeting and asked the police to clear the gallery. The police on their part were not heavy handed and a discussion took place for about 15 minutes however when it was made clear that we were to be arrested we decided to leave.

We were escorted as a group through the council chamber past the councillors, we made sure that we were vocal and left nobody in any doubt about our feelings, as we passed Geoff Driver he mouthed FUCK OFF at a group of us. The people in control of our council hold us in utter contempt, they are not concerned with the devastation there cuts will cause to the vulnerable.  Today must mark the start and not the end of the fight back.

~ by Wit on February 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “A window on our democracy: Tory Councillors in Lancashire”

  1. To Geoff Driver,

    I have received an account of the Lancashire County Council meeting that occurred today. As a resident of Lancashire I would like to ask for an explanation of your behaviour at the meeting, which I deem to be utterly unacceptable for the following reasons:

    According to the account I have heard that:

    * Concerned constituents were told they could not sit to hear the meeting, despite there being room for them. They were then treated like criminals, being subjected to searches and having property confiscated.
    * When they asked you questions, rather than being given an answer, they were threatened with arrest and forced to leave the meeting.
    *You mouthed insulting words at them as they left under a police escort.

    I do not deem this to be “serving the people” you were elected to represent. Rather, it seems to me that you have misused your power to bully and intimidate people who have a right to be concerned about policies their council is implementing.

    If you are able to explain to me why you thought this behaviour appropriate, and how it serves democracy, I would be very appreciative.


  2. […] to my last post, below is a reposting of an article from Virtual Lancaster about the disgrace that was the […]

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