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Removal of protesters' cameras at Shropshire Council meeting was legal, says leader

South Shropshire | News | Published:

The removal of cameras from protesters at a Shropshire Council meeting was legal according the the authority's leader.

Councillor Keith Barrow, leader of the council, has said the action was taken to "calm the meeting down".

The incident took place at a meeting of full council in May, where a group from Ludlow were protesting over what they claimed is the "privatisation of council services".

Councillor Barrow's response to the issue came after a written question was submitted by Vivienne Parry, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow South, who queried the legality of the move.

In a written response he said: "I was not in the chamber at the time this happened, but I am advised that the members of the public were asked to leave their cameras at the desk where the minute takers sit in order to calm the meeting down as the atmosphere was beginning to get quite tense.

"There is nothing unlawful in asking someone to do this. It remains the chairman's responsibility to ensure that the use of such equipment does not interfere with the overall integrity of the meeting.

"In such circumstances and in accordance with relevant legislation the council may use its 'power of exclusion to suppress or prevent disorderly conduct or other misbehaviour at a meeting'."

The meeting in question had been a factious affair with around 40 protesters bearing placards attending the meeting to express concerns about the role of IP&E in council services.

At one point there was a heated exchange between campaigners and council chief executive Clive Wright, who told them they would not be able to film proceedings as they had not obtained prior consent.

Two protesters had cameras removed after choosing to ignore the warnings.

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