Community campaigners protest: ‘Lewisham Town hall acted like HQ of authoritarian regime’

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk

A council meeting descended into chaos as several protest groups fought to get answers from town hall chiefs.

Representatives from several different community campaigns stuffed themselves into the public gallery for a full council meeting on Wednesday, November 28.

Police and security were called to evict members of the public after councillors were met with jeers and shouts when 63 public questions could not be asked in the 30 minute slot available.

Shaka Anderson, who attended the protest outside the council chamber on Wednesday, said: “I wish I was shocked that there are security blocking the doors of a council meeting that is meant to be public. But I’m not. “This is the kind of behaviour that I’ve experienced over the years with Lewisham.

Shaka Anderson

“The town hall looks more like the headquarters of an authoritarian regime instead of the centre of local democracy.”

Ramps were set up outside the Catford Civic Suite and security stood by the door. Seats in the public gallery were held for members of the public asking questions and the press.

Several protesters were not allowed to enter the building.

A spokesman for the Met sad: “Police assistance was requested at a small demonstration being held at Lewisham Town Hall in Catford Road at around 10.40pm on Wednesday, November 28.

“Officers attended. The demonstrators dispersed after requests for security staff. No arrests were made.”

The demonstrators came from several groups including Save Lewisham Libraries, Catford Against Social Cleansing, and Save Reginald Save Tidemill.

A council spokesman said: “We implemented public questions at council meetings in order to be more open and democratic.

We’ve enshrined this right in our constitution but sadly a small number of people used the opportunity to disrupt the meeting.

Despite repeated warnings from the chairwoman of the council that the time for supplementary questions was running out, the actions of some prevented others from speaking.

The amount of time for public questions is set out in the council’s constitution, is displayed on a screen and was made clear before questions began.”

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