There was uproar and dissent in the public gallery at last night’s Town Hall council meeting, with two members of the public removed from the chamber and the police called as the local Tories tried to blame a Labour councillor. Here, ANDREW PELLING, pictured, gives his account of what really happened
At last night’s council meeting I had to ask a Tory councillor Mario Creatura to apologise for suggesting that I had insulted a couple of residents in the public gallery. I regard such remarks as being made out of malice and defamatory.
I made no comment to any member of the public at any time.
Two members of the public, well-known in the area as vociferous and partisan Tory supporters, accused Stuart Collins, the Labour cabinet member for Clean Green Croydon, of dishonesty over his description of the capacity of new solar-powered compacting bins.
Their calculations appeared to be in error and I was able to suggest some enhancements to Councillor Collins’ computations that appeared to be underestimates of capacity. When a questioner advised that these “big belly bins” had a very impressive 550-litre capacity before compaction mechanics, I suggested to Councillor Collins that he should crawl into it. That way, in addition to being even more conscientious in his council duties regarding clean streets, Councillor Collins could prove the size of the bin and its measurements.
This suggestion was deliberately misinterpreted by the questioners and the Conservatives, led by Creatura, as a reference to a questioner. The ensuing uproar and attempt to claim victimhood over an innocent remark between colleagues in the chamber managed to disrupt the conduct of important council business for many minutes, causing the Mayor, as the meeting’s chair, to issue repeated warnings to those making the noise in the public gallery, and for the police to be called.
I have had previous experience with the two individuals concerned, when they have been confrontational during a reception held in the Mayor’s Parlour, leading to my lodging a complaint to the Mayor’s office.
Indeed, these vexatious and confrontational Addiscombe residents have been involved in previous physical confrontations with two senior Labour councillors. I am informed that council officials have sent the residents formal letters regarding their conduct.
As a result of a confrontation caused by one of these attention-seeking residents at a Town Hall planning meeting, members of the public are now required to sit upstairs away from floor of the chamber and the committee.
One of Croydon’s most senior councillors even had to deal with a physical confrontation from one of the pair of residents in a public house close to the Town Hall, which led to another complaint about their behaviour to the council.
Indeed, last night, after the council meeting, I was warned by a council colleague to avoid a local hostelry because the two individuals were waiting there, perhaps seeking to continue the altercation which they had caused.
As an elected councillor for Waddon ward, I am keen to discuss and debate local matters with Croydon residents, but it is important that all local representatives are able to conduct the town’s affairs without intimidation.
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