Cambridge City Councillor Colin Rosenstiel Accused of Obstructing Ambulance on Jesus Green

Sunday, February 1st, 2009. 3:13am

Standards Committee Papers

A complaint against Cambridge City Councillor Colin Rosenstiel, in which it is alleged he obstructed an ambulance responding to a 999 call on Jesus Green, is to be heard by a panel of the council’s Standards Committee on the 11th of February 2009. The panel is made up of councillors Bick, McGovern, and McPherson along with external members: Dr A Clark (Chair) and Mr M Williams.

Full details of the complaint, including transcripts of interviews with both the ambulance man and Cllr Rosenstiel are available on the City Council’s website in a report by the council’s standards officer.

Cllr Rosenstiel has suggested that the complaint may have arisen partly as a consequence of the complainant realising he was involved in a previous incident where he was filmed slamming the doors of a van which had parked obstructing the cycleway on Downing Street in Cambridge, a video of which is embedded at the bottom of this article.

The events resulting in the complaint currently under consideration took place on the 2nd of June 2007, the complaint was not made until October 2007 and the hearing is to be in February 2009. I am a strong believer in the sentiment: “justice delayed is justice denied” and think this is far too long. This problem, where due process is delayed, is not unique to local government but pervades the justice system and the public sector in general in the UK. It is something which needs to be fixed.

Another element of procedure which I think ought to change is the ability for the panel to suspend an elected councillor for up to six months*, I do not think any group other than the electorate who put them their ought be able to remove an elected representative. I do think that in certain cases such as convictions of serious crimes, or serious findings of misconduct then a bye-election ought be held with every elector being made aware of the nature of the findings against their representative.

It is worth noting that what Cllr Rosenstiel is accused of is an offence under the Emergency Workers (Obstruction) Act 2006 and is punishable with a fine. The Act came into force on 20th February 2007. The police were aware of what was alleged but took no action other than to give Cllr Rosenstiel stern words of advice when he was still remonstrating with the ambulance driver after he had treated his patient.

The case also draws attention to the question of how emergency vehicles can access Jesus Green when required. If they do not have keys then I think they ought to (clearly the fire service who regularly train on the river from the green have keys). If access controls are to be introduced to Midsummer Common clearly there too emergency vehicle access needs to be enabled. On the subject of access for ambulances Cllr Hipkin speaking at a recent west/central area committee noted the need for ambulance drivers to be aware of the location of pinch points used to calm traffic in the city which are too narrow for them to drive through.

* In Cllr Rosenstiel’s case this is three months due to the period having been increased to six months only for complaints made after 8th May 2008.

Video – George Galloway suspended from Parliament
Video – George Galloway suspended from Parliament

15 comments/updates on “Cambridge City Councillor Colin Rosenstiel Accused of Obstructing Ambulance on Jesus Green

  1. o l

    i live nearby and clearly remember witnessing the event because i’ve observed the councillor behaving in this manner before. the emergency lights were definitely flashing.

  2. Mr Right

    You are both plonkers. Raving Rosenstiel should be in a mental home. Your belief that councillors should not be accountable and stay on the gravy train until voted off is pathetic.

  3. Richard Article author

    I have not suggested that councillors should not be accountable, and o l’s comment does not refer to accountability.

    I think councillors, and other elected representatives ought be accountable to their electorate, not unelected officials. The panel of the standards committee ought have a role, I would have thought that for reasons of cost, and turnout holding a by-election alongside other elections would be the most sensible thing to do. If something is so serious the panel, and full council think more immediate action is required then I would be favour of a by-election as soon as possible.

    I think the panel could be strengthened by having its councillor members drawn by a ballot of all councillors (minus those with a conflict of interest).

    While I am commenting it might be worth noting that at the recent Traffic Area Joint Committee Rosenstiel stated he was red/green colour blind. It will be interesting to see if he tries to use this as part of his defence.

  4. Richard Article author

    The panel found that Cllr Rosenstiel did breach the code of conduct, they decided, as a penalty, to insist he apologised and insisted the letters of apology be made public.

    Hopefully the publicity, which has included a segment on the local TV news this evening, is sufficient to ensure his electorate are aware of his behaviour.

    I would have liked to see him up for re-election in May; he could still resign to enable this.

  5. Jim Smith

    What a disgrace. That is no a punishment in my book. A fine lesson to all those who direct abuse and violence towards our emergency services.

    So let’s hear this apology then, Mr Rosentiel. It was very glaringly absent from the Cambridge News article – let’s have his apology published in the paper.

    NB, Cllr Neville Sanders was suspended from Peterborough City Council for a year for failing to show respect to a council employee (in a incident far less confrontational than this) – why has ranting Rosentiel not been banned or at least ordered to go on an anger management course.

  6. Jason Dullforce

    This man is a truly a menace. As a Lib Dem supporter he really is letting the side down very badly, and his days as a councillor must surely be numbered.

  7. Mary Saunders

    Why is he still in office? I sincerely hope we the public have the sense not to vote him in again. I will certainly not be voting for him, he is a rude, arrogant and self obsessed individual who has no place in public office.

  8. David Vincent

    I am concerned at this little burst of venom against Cllr Rosenstiel.

    Obviously, it will be down to the voters next year (and indeed to his own decision as to whether he wants – or is well enough – to stand again) whether he conmtinues to represent Market, but I do think there is a great deal to be said for a Councillor who is prepared to jump straight on his bike and go and have a look at a problem reported to him by one of his constituents. I am not convinced there is any other current Councillor who would have even contemplated doing that. Personally, that is the sort of Councillor I would like to see. Although I agree that some of Cllr Rosenstiel’s actions were very misguided, at least he was concerned enough to be there in the first place and to be trying to do something.

    And I also think there is something to be said for “institutional memory”. I note Richard’s comment on another topic that Cllr Rosenstiel recalled being involved in authorising in 1983 the planting of the trees on New Square that officers were now suggesting should be removed. It used to be common for people to remain Councillors for a long time, so that they remembered why things had (or had not) happened the way they had done. That no longer seems to be the case, and I think it is something of a pity.

  9. Anthony Wong

    Please Mr Vincent, I think swearing at a van driver, as can he heard on the footage, pushing him out of the way and slamming his doors is far more than misguided. His ambulance altercation is certainly more than misguided. I wonder what else will come out as he does not seem to learn from his ‘misguided’ actions. He has been charged with bringing his office into disrepute and yet nothing else happens to him in these serious circumstances. What kind of a system is this.

  10. Robin Tenty

    Anthony, you are the voice of sanity and reason. This kind of behaviour can never be merely explained as ‘misguided’ – it is a pattern of behaviour which represents a danger to the good folk of Cambridge.

  11. Richard Article author

    “Robin Tenty” is posting from the same IP (Carphone Warehouse Broadband) address as “Jason Dullforce”.

    “Anthony Wong” is posting from the same IP (AOL) as “Mary Saunders”.

  12. Anthony Wong

    I work in the same office as Mary, Richard, let me know if that is a crime to use the same IP address to post my comments.

  13. Robin Tenty

    Richard. Jason (no inverted commas necessary) is my partner. I share both his computer and his views on Mr Rosenstiel.

  14. Tina Kane

    I have no issue at all using my name to add my own comments about the behaviour of Mr Rosenstiel. As someone who has the misfortune, frequently, of travelling on the train to London in the same carriage, I can attest to his obnoxious behaviour – as (it seems) can every other commuter who makes the same journey, many of whom queued up today to offer me solace (and their own anecdotes) after a particularly obnoxious bout of behaviour. Indeed, Mr Rosenstiel is so well known to the other passengers on the 9:15 to King’s Cross that another commuter (previously unknown to me)sought me out at the end of the journey to proffer Mr Rosenstiel’s name (and other information) in order that I might pursue my own complaint against him. Rather than focusing on whether we (apparently many) complainants have legitimate issue with Mr Rosenstiel, you might consider the statistical likelihood of so many unrelated people appearing to have had the same horrible experience of dealing with him. Can we all be wrong?

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