Police called to St Neots Town Council for second time as row with former councillor continues
- Credit: Archant
Police have been called to a meeting of St Neots Town Council for a second time over the actions of a former councillor the authority has barred from its premises.
Now the town council is to seek further advice on what it can do over the actions of Bob Farrer, who served on the council until May.
He has been involved in a long-running dispute with the council over allegations he has made about the way the authority is run and how he has been treated.
A ban from all the council’s buildings was imposed on Mr Farrer after police were called to a meeting earlier this summer when he left of his own volition after being spoken to by officers.
Last week Mr Farrer, who was accompanied by his “legal advisor” Ken Churchill - also a former councillor - went to a planning meeting where he said he was told by the chairman that the meeting would not take place while he was in the building.
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Mr Farrer showed the committee a solicitor’s letter saying the council did not have the power to impose a blanket ban and also referred them to the Public Bodies Admission to Meetings Act.
“There were some words and commotions so they went off to call the police again and half an hour later the two officers arrived,” Mr Farrer said.
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He said the officers told him there was nothing they could do because he had not been abusive or violent.
“Ken and I agreed to leave of our own accord and went downstairs only to find the planning meeting was in progress in the Cloisters - so much for no meeting to take place while I was on the premises,” said Mr Farrer, who has acknowledged that the council has the right to exclude him if he is disruptive.
Mr Farrer said his legal advice was that the authority did not have the power to ban him from all premises.
But town clerk Ed Reilly said the police had earlier advised the council that they could exclude Mr Farrer, whose behaviour he described as “disgraceful”.
He said there had been no option but to suspend the meeting and reconvene elsewhere in the building with members of the public.
Mr Reilly said he was seeking further advice on what action could be taken to prevent disruption and that the police did have the right to make an arrest under the Public Order Act if there was a problem at a council meeting.
He said the planning committee had a lot of work to do and if it was unable to complete meetings it may not be able to make crucial comments in time, making it look as if it had no views on a particular subject.
“We have a lot of new councillors who want to get on with their work which they can’t do,” Mr Reilly said.
He said he planned to take further advice on what could be done and to write to the police.