Police called as protests interrupt meeting
9:30am Thursday 21st February 2013 in News
THERE was drama in the council chamber as police were called after a number of disruptions to last night’s meeting.
As the meeting started, The Mayor of Bolton, Cllr Guy Harkin, asked the people packed into the public gallery to behave themselves, recalling protests at last year's budget meeting.
His plea was immediately met by one member of the public shouting: “Get on with it”.
The meeting was then adjourned for five minutes while he was ejected.
A large banner reading “NO MORE CUTS” was also draped from the balcony before being removed.
The public gallery then had to be cleared altogether at about 7.30pm after more disruption, when a woman started heckling the mayor.
The public were allowed back in after the mayor identified Tom Hanley, the chairman of the save Bolton’s libraries campaign, as being particularly disruptive.
Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris sat down with Mr Hanley for a five-minute talk before he agreed to leave. Town Hall security called for police back-up, and one officer arrived to help contain the situation.
The meeting proper only got under way after 8pm, more than an hour after it was scheduled to start.
Earlier about 100 protesters gathered outside the Town Hall’s staff entrance ahead of last night's meeting.
There were drums, whistles and a PA system, and councillors entering the Town Hall were greeted with chants of “Labour councillors show some guts, get off your knees and fight the cuts”.
Protester Roy Whittle, aged 83, from Smithills, worked for the council for 30 years until 1994.
He said: “I’m protesting against the budget cuts because they’re cutting services and putting up rates.”
Bolton Unison branch chairman Matt Kilsby said: “The turnout is all right considering it is such a cold night.
“I don’t think the council realises the strength of feeling about the cuts.”
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