Urgent security review under way after ‘assault’ at Town Hall

EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES

Targets: the old-style seating in the Town Hall chamber, with councillors seen from the public gallery

Senior council officials are conducting an urgent review of security measures at Croydon Town Hall after members of the planning committee were sprayed with fluid from the public gallery at their meeting on Thursday night.

No one was hurt in the incident, but veteran Labour councillors Clive Fraser and Joy Prince were both squirted from above with what is understood to have been nothing more dangerous than water.

The meeting was adjourned for several minutes following the incident, and the public gallery cleared. The webcast of the meeting, which is usually made available on the day following, has so far been withheld by the council.

Meetings in person at the council, including limited public access, have only resumed recently following the pandemic lockdown. Because of social distancing precautions, the seating arrangements for councillors in the body of the Town Hall Chamber are different from pre-pandemic times, with desks laid out throughout the body of the hall, including closer to the public gallery.

Councillors have been advised that a review is being conducted, not by the council’s chief executive, but by Asmat Hussain, the council’s interim executive director of resources. Katherine Kerswell, the council’s £192,474 per year CEO, is away on leave.

Joy Prince: one of at least two councillors sprayed with water at Thursday’s planning meeting

Of all council business, the usually fortnightly meetings of its planning committee probably draw the most interest from residents, and given the often contentious decisions, also generate the most public anger. Confrontations after meetings between residents and committee members have occurred in the past, though nothing that led to any form of assault.

Thursday’s incident is being treated very seriously. “This time it was only water, thankfully,” a Katharine Street source said, “but we live in an age when all sorts of attacks take place, sometimes with horrible consequences.

“It would be easy to trivialise what happened, but the council needs to approach the matter as a very serious warning.

“The council, including its staff and elected members, have got to be able to conduct its business safe from harm. The review will have to look at access to the public gallery, and security measures over entry to the Town Hall.”

By the time of publication, no one from the council’s propaganda department had responded to Inside Croydon’s invitation to comment on the incident, nor offer confirmation of whether any report had been filed to the police.


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to Urgent security review under way after ‘assault’ at Town Hall

  1. Can anyone really be surprised that Croydon residents resort to these actions, unfortunately counterproductive. It will probably give the council an excuse to bring in greater secretiveness and even less transparency.
    In a democracy residents should have some means of ensuring that their council behaves with rectitude, openness and complete transparency. Cronyism and incompetence and doubtfull links should not be considered normal but be rooted out. The Labour party is always complaining about these things in the government, and seem to think the same standards do not apply to them.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Sometimes you wonder what this world is coming to.

    People should not be assaulting others and people should be kept from harm. Does water classify as assault? Perhaps it is the intent. Irrespective. No person should be attacked in their work place.

    Still, the Katharine Street source’s comments are notable: “But we live in an age when all sorts of attacks take place, sometimes with horrible consequences.

    “It would be easy to trivialise what happened, but the council needs to approach the matter as a very serious warning.

    “The council, including its staff and elected members, have got to be able to conduct its business safe from harm. The review will have to look at access to the public gallery, and security measures over entry to the Town Hall.”

    I would 100% agree.

    In fact I am grateful that at least one person has the gumption and morals to state this

    So perhaps the same review will take place on the following, “We live in an age where local planners and Senior Council administrators take questionable planning decisions, cut services and enforcement resource, leave tenants in deplorable conditions and ignore their pleas. Disabled and critically ill vulnerable residents ignored and left to developer depredations – Actual and serious mental and physical harm including long term impairment has occurred with residents traumatised daily from those actions and decisions

    “It would be easy to trivialise and ignore what happened, but the council needs to approach the matter as a very serious warning and actually provide some remedy, not silence.

    A water attack is wrong – but long-term injury and death by development is somewhat final is it not? I know what I would be have as a priority to review and it is not H2O.

    So let us see how much this Administration cares about the 390,000 residents of the Borough!

  3. Sally M says:

    I don’t advocate the actions. I do, however, hope the planning committee recognises the strength of feeling by residents that they are being failed by the committee and the planning team. I am not sure what the improvement board is doing but there needs now to be some external intervention to take over the planning department and address committee cronyism.

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