|An Affront to Democracy?|
Claims of Council overreaction at recent demonstration
An Ealing resident who was searched by a team of outside security before being admitted to a council planning meeting last week says he's appalled.
Victor Mishiku from the voluntary group 'The Covenant Movement' which helps local people on planning matters has attended public meetings at the town hall for over 20 years.
He says he has never encountered such heavy handed behaviour before.
Additional security officers had been employed by the council on the advice of police because of a planned demonstration.
They searched all members of the public and turned away a local news reporter who didn't have the correct identification.
Mr Mishiku, 64, of Castlebar Road, was at the meeting to hear the results of a different planning application, he said;
'' The security were rude and brusque. I'd expect to be searched in a criminal court but this was an Ealing council meeting for goodness sake.'
A council spokesperson says they acted in good faith:
" We actively encourage people to attend our meetings and we are quite happy for people to protest peacefully. However last week we received information from police that more than 100 people might attend the Blue-NG planning committee and that some may be intent on disrupting the meeting and interfering with other council business.
During the course of the day several people attempted to gain access to the town hall and we received false reports of a broken window.
As a result of police advice and our concerns about the activities of a small minority of protestors, we increased security precautions to ensure the meeting could proceed safely.
Those who regularly attend our meetings will know how very unusual it is for us to search the bags of everyone entering the public gallery. We would not take these extra precautions unless we believed it necessary for the safety of everyone attending."
September 10, 2009