Council Minutes

Council Minutes

Date:
Wednesday 20 June 2012
Time:
7:00 p.m.
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor R Arundale, Councillor S E Bloundele, Councillor R Brady, Councillor J Brunton, Councillor D Budd, Councillor M Carr, Councillor G B Clark, Councillor J G Cole, Councillor B Coppinger, Councillor P Cox, Councillor T Harvey, Councillor W Hawthorne, Councillor C Hobson, Councillor J Hobson, Councillor B A Hubbard, Councillor M Hudson, Councillor N Hussain, Councillor P Khan, Councillor S Khan, Councillor R Lowes, R Mallon (Mayor), Councillor T Mawston, Councillor J McPartland, Councillor J McTigue, Councillor J Michna, Councillor K J Morby, Councillor H Pearson, Councillor G Purvis, Councillor P Purvis, Councillor C M Rooney, Councillor J Rostron, Councillor P Sanderson, Councillor M Saunders, Councillor P Sharrocks, Councillor B E Taylor, Councillor B Thompson, Councillor J A Walker, Councillor N J Walker, Councillor M B Williams
Officers:
M Braithwaite, E Chicken, A Hoy, J Lewis, I Parker, B Roberts, G Rollings and M Storey
Apologies for absence:
Councillor S Biswas, Councillor D Davison, Councillor M Hanif, Councillor L Junier, Councillor R Kerr, Councillor E Lancaster, Councillor H Rehman, Councillor J Sharrocks
Declarations of interest:

There were no declarations of interest for this meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
12/13 MAYOR'S BUSINESS - ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY

The Mayor made a statement in response to recent incidents in which cars belonging to two Councillors had been set alight during the course of the Jubilee weekend. The Mayor outlined the specific events and made reference to further criminal damage made to the homes and property of certain other Councillors in other incidents over the last few years.

 

The Mayor decried such behaviour which he felt was a deliberate attempt by a small contingent of people who wished to challenge the concept of democracy, to destabilise the Council and intimidate elected members.

The Mayor outlined the background to his original election and changes to the political landscape since that time. He referred to the various issues that had affected and continue to affect the Council over many years and the role of elected members in trying to address those political issues. He commented that politics was not a subject such as health, defence, law and order or subjects affecting the Council, such as housing, health and social care etc. Politics was about people. In that context, and the context in which Councillors work, it was about influencing and persuading one another. It was impossible to bring about complete agreement on every issue and there would always be some agreement and disagreement, but when major decisions were taken, the democratic voting rights of elected representatives would prevail as democracy was the foundation on which the country and the town were built.

 

There were a number of community activists in the town whose opposition to the Council was based on personal rather than specific policy matters, and who had personal agendas against certain Councillors. Some of the behaviours displayed by those individuals could be regarded as being obsessive. In a smaller number of cases, as shown by the most recent incidents, there obsession had now developed into criminal behaviour. These criminal acts not only caused distress to the Councillors and their families and could have led to more serious consequences endangering lives.

 

The Mayor acknowledged that the vast majority of councillors worked extremely hard. They entered politics to make a difference for the good of the people in the town. The number of individual and collective actions taken by Councillors on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis equated to a great public service. The vast majority of Councillors should be proud of what they achieve both individually and collectively and he believed the public at large were grateful for all they did. He encouraged all Members to stand together and be firm, to be vigilant and aware and asked that anyone with any information as to the identity of the perpetrators or about the two specific incidents to inform the police.

 

Following the Mayor’s statement Councillors across the political spectrum highlighted other instances in which Councillors had been subjected to unacceptable levels of behaviour, to vindictive anonymous letters, cyber bullying, vitriolic personal comments conveyed in the press and through social media, harassment, threatening and abusive comments and behaviour. All Members condemned the incidents; agreed that such behaviour would not be tolerated and would not be allowed to discourage people from standing for election. Members must be free to make democratic decisions without fear of reprisals. NOTED
 

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