I arrived at Shire Hall at 0830 to be greeted by the normal road to the car park being blocked by protesters. After a detour and some delays I made it to the car park but I was left wondering how members of the public who had come to register a birth, death or marriage would cope. The main doors to Shire Hall were obstructed by a small crowd of protesters who seemed more intent in getting in the way than trying to pass on any message.
The council came into session but was then interrupted repeatedly by protestors in the public gallery. The protestors kept on repeating chants and shouting out. The problem was that it was preventing the council carrying out its business and we had a budget to set. After a number of loud protests by individuals claiming it was more democratic to listen to them than the elected members, and after a number of warnings, several were asked to leave. Police eventually had to arrest some protestors and remove them from the building. Shame really as we do not normally have many members of the public attending.
I guess protest is sometimes a useful tool in campaigning but I am afraid it all came across as self indulgent and frankly bad mannered. Worse, all it did was to slow down proceeding with little or no affect on the outcome. Members of the public who had registered their desire to speak were shouted down, petitioners could not be heard and elected members shouted over. That is not democracy.
Practically it made a long day for everyone. I think I left the chamber at 2030hrs.
See a video by Richard Taylor, an independent blogger, who filmed the protests.