Police called to Ashfield District Council as tempers flare during meeting

POLICE were called to an Ashfield District Council meeting after a member of the public was caught filming the proceedings without permission from the authority.

The controversy occurred while questions regarding the council’s flying of an EU flag were being asked by a member of the public at Thursday night’s full council meeting.

Tony Ellis, who stood for Parliament for Ashfield for the English Democrats in 2010, had submitted two questions to the council, his first asking if the authority accepts that the EU government has ‘no lawful jurisdiction over the Ashfield community and its representative council?’.

In response, Coun Chris Baron - portfolio holder for customer and corporate services - replied that as a member of the EU, the UK is bound by its legislation and policies.

He said that there may be implementation of EU laws at a district council level, such as the Human Rights Act, which is a UK law that incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Ellis’ second question asked why the EU flag is flying outside the ADC offices ‘when you have all been made aware that this is unlawful in accordance with your oaths of office and current Parliamentary legislation?’.

In reply, he was told that under the Town And Country Planning Act, local authorities are permitted to fly the English flag, Union flag and the EU flag, without seeking planning permission.

Coun Baron did though admit it ‘would be sensible to stop flying the flag if there was a referendum’ on EU membership, during the period of purdah.

He also stated that the council would not remove the flag.

During the questions, it was then noticed that a member of the public was filming the proceedings without permission and he was approached by a council officer and asked to delete the footage.

He refused and as tempers flared, with Coun Baron confronting the man with the camera, the meeting was adjourned and the police called to resolve the matter.

However, when the police arrived, the person who had been filming, and who had not been identified, had left.

A Nottinghamshire police spokeswoman said that as no offences had been committed no further action was taken.

When the meeting resumed, Mr Ellis told the council that as an ‘executor of the trust’, he was instructing the council to remove the flag - a demand that was met with a round of applause from the public gallery.

Following the meeting, the footage was posted on the You Tube video sharing website.

A council spokeswoman said that the majority of Ashfield District Council’s meetings are open to the public to enable people to see business being conducted in an open and transparent way.

However, photography is allowed within the Council Chamber only on request and subject to prior arrangement.

She added: “Consequently, the council will be considering its position in order to ensure its future business can be transacted efficiently, effectively and transparently and this will involve discussions with the police.”