Attempted Physical Ejection from Greater Cambridge City Deal Meeting on Milton and Histon Roads


Tuesday, June 14th, 2016. 3:08am

On the 13th of June 2016 Greater Cambridge City Deal Officer Richard Preston attempted to physically remove me from a meeting to which all of North Cambridge’s councillors had been invited. The meeting had been called to “establish” influential “Local Liaison Forums” which have been asked to work on the details of the plans for remodelling Milton and Histon Road. Mr Preston and his fellow officer Mr Stinton asked for the police to be called.

I turned up, by chance, outside the secret, private, meeting on the future of Milton and Histon Roads and was invited in by Cllr John Hipkin. The meeting’s time and location had not been published so I wasn’t really expecting to find it at all; at best I hoped to be able to lobby councillors on their way in and ask them about what had happened on their way out.

Perhaps as a result of my presence councillors decided not to take decisions on the membership or terms of reference of the forum until a formal public meeting is held, they merely decided on a mechanism for selecting the initial meeting dates and decided councillors would vote to elect the forum’s chairs. There are to be separate forums for Milton and Histon roads.

I left the meeting once it became clear nothing was going to happen while I was observing.

Secret, private, meetings of councillors which evade our laws on openness of our democratic decision making are becoming a significant problem in Cambridge. I have experienced them outside of the City Deal with the Police Authority, Police and Crime Panel and Clinical Commissioning Group. I think elected representatives should debate and decide on civic matters in public; doing so is an essential part of our democratic system.

[In the case of the Clinical Commissioning Group it's GPs, NHS managers and an ex MP, not councillors, who deliberate behind closed doors]

Background

Enormous changes to Cambridge are proposed by the Greater Cambridge City Deal board. The board are responsible for spending up to £500m of national public investment in Cambridge. The board have instituted “Local Liaison Forums” to develop the details of the plans including the remodelling of Milton and Histon Roads.

In relation to Milton and Histon Roads a board paper from the 9th of June stated:

All councillors from wards/divisions within which scheme works will be undertaken have been invited to participate and a meeting to establish an LLF is taking place on Monday (13th)

The board made clear during its June meeting that it expected the Local Liaison Forums to be hugely influential, they went so far as to record a formal decision to note: “the important role of the Local Liaison Forum in involving local Councillors and stakeholder groups in the development of the detailed layout plans for consultation”.

I asked the City Deal and my local councillors to publish the time and location of the meeting on the 13th of June, but those details remained secret. Minutes of a previous similar private meeting on the “Project Western Orbital Project” show councillors met in secret to determine the membership of that Local Liaison Forum. I was expecting councillors to decide on forum membership, terms of reference (including public access, public speaking to lobby, reporting and filming) at their meeting on the 13th.

I expected this to be a significant meeting at which councillors would determine what, if any, opportunities to influence to the plans for Milton and Histon Road would be given to local residents’, residents’ associations, those calling themselves residents’ associations, bus companies, businesses including shops and organisations on the science and business parks, campaign groups such as Cambridge Past Present and Future, CamCycle and others. I didn’t know if the scope of the meeting would be limited to Milton and Histon Roads or if it might be a very broad meeting including city and county councillors from across Cambridge, and perhaps councillors, including parish councillors from beyond meeting to discuss proposals such as the workplace parking levy intended to cut congestion in Cambridge. When I went out in search of the meeting I thought I might well come across one of the largest ever gatherings of the region’s elected representatives.

What Happened

I went out with the intention of scouring the city looking for the meeting, I didn’t know its time or location. While standing outside the Shire Hall Cllr Hipkin approached me, I asked him if I was in the right place for the secret meeting, he said I was and he invited me in.

Once I was in the meeting the meeting’s chair, officer Richard Preston asked me to leave and asked for the police to be called.

As councillors emerged from the meeting I asked them what had been decided. Apart from agreeing a mechanism by which the date of the first meetings would be set a (doodle pool) and agreeing a [unspecified] mechanism enabling Cllr David Jenkins of Cottenham, Histon and Impington to become a member and left other details up to the first meeting of the forum. Councillors decided only councillors would get to vote on who would be the forum’s chair.

I think it is excellent that councillors refused to take decisions about the membership, attendance, reporting rights, etc. at the local liaison forums in their secret, private meeting and have decided to take these decisions in public.

Councillor Attendance

Despite the public interest in the City Deal projects and in particular the impact on Milton and Histon Roads just eight of the area’s nineteen individual councillors attended.

Cllr Kevin Price (King’s Hedges) Present
Cllr Nigel Gawthrope (King’s Hedges) Absent
Cllr Martin Smart (King’s Hedges) Absent
Cllr Fiona Onasanya (King’s Hedges) Present
Cllr Margery Abbott (East Chesterton) Absent
Cllr Gerri Bird (East Chesterton) Present
Cllr Peter Sarris (East Chesterton) Absent
Cllr Ian Manning (East Chesterton) Present
Cllr Ysanne Austin (West Chesterton) Absent
Cllr Mike Sargeant (West Chesterton) Absent
Cllr Damien Tunnacliffe (West Chesterton) Absent
Cllr Jocelynne Scutt (West Chesterton) Present
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle) Present
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle) Present
Cllr Marie-Louise Holland (Castle) Absent
Cllr Valerie Holt (Castle) Absent
Cllr Carina O’Reilly (Arbury) Absent
Cllr Charlotte Perry (Arbury) Absent
Cllr Mike Todd-Jones (Arbury) Present
Cllr Paul Sales (Arbury) Present

In addition councillor David Jenkins of Cottenham, Histon and Impington was present, there were people I didn’t recognise who were probably officers but may have been councillors from outside Cambridge.

Transcript of Key Elements

Richard Taylor: Am I in the right place for the secret meeting Cllr Hipkin?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Yes indeed. At six o’clock.
Richard Taylor: and what time are we at now?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): We are at six o’clock Richard. So bring your friend [referring to the camera] in with you.
Richard Taylor: Oh. Excellent. Thank you.

Greater Cambridge City Deal Officer Richard Preston: I’m afraid this is a private meeting.
Cllr Kevin Price (Labour, King’s Hedges): He knows.
Richard Taylor: Excellent.
Officer Richard Preston: Well I’ll have to ask you to leave.
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): Go on. Hop it.
Richard Taylor: Well I was outside and Cllr Hipkin let me in so I thought I thought I would come in and see what happened.
Cllr Kevin Price (Labour, King’s Hedges): Happy days.
Officer Richard Preston: Well whether they let you in or not, can I ask you to leave.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : What’s the issue with Richard here?
Richard Taylor: So who is going to be chairing the meeting tonight?
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): Go away. Richard you are out of order.
Officer Richard Preston: It’s an informal meeting discussing local members.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : What’s the issue?
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): It’s a private meeting.
Officer Richard Preston: There will be a formal process after this. This is to establish the formal process. The meeting will be open at that stage. You are not invited to the meeting, can I ask you to leave.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : Can I just say I can’t see no reason why he can’t be here. What’s the issue?
Officer Richard Preston: Well could you, could you leave please. I’ve asked you to leave.
Richard Taylor: There appears to be a debate about public access about to occur.
Officer Richard Preston: This is my meeting. Can you leave.
Officer Richard Preston: Now do you want me to get heavy and get some security or will you leave when you are asked to?
Officer Richard Preston: It’s as simple as that.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : Sorry, am I the only one who things it’s fine for him to be here?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Ian, you know this there is a procedure.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : No way. There isn’t a procedure. There’s no reason why he can’t be here.
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): It’s a private meeting.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : It’s not. It doesn’t say that in the constitution.
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): If Richard is allowed then every member of the public is allowed.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : Yes. Why not?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Because it would be stupid.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : Oh would it? OK. I don’t think it would be stupid.
Officer Richard Preston: Now I’ll ask you for the last time, can you leave please?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): You’d be well advised to leave Richard.
Richard Taylor: So will there be decisions? This appears to me to be a decision making meeting of councillors.
Officer Richard Preston: It appears to you?
Richard Taylor: Yes, it does, yes.
Officer Richard Preston: You know everything about this meeting do you?
Richard Taylor: Well…
Officer Richard Preston: Do you?
Richard Taylor: I believe that what I know is the board have said that this meeting will decide who can attend local liaison forums so it’s this meeting which will determine the influence which Stagecoach will have, that the Cycling Campaign wil have,
Officer Richard Preston: I’m not going to discuss. I’m not going to discuss this with you. I’ve asked you to leave three times. Are you going to leave or not?
Richard Taylor: Well I’ve been invited in here by a councillor; another one of local councillors appears quite keen to allow…
Officer Richard Preston: It is not a councillors’ meeting it’s an officers’ meeting. I have issued invitations, it is not for them to invite others.
Richard Taylor: Who have you invited this evening?
Officer Richard Preston: I’m not going to discuss it with you. Can you leave.
Richard Taylor: Well if you’ve invited all of North Cambridge’s local councillors then that seams to me to be a council meeting.
[Officer Richard Preston grabs Richard Taylor]
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : Hold on. Hold on. There’s no need for assault OK.
Officer Richard Preston: I’ve asked you to leave four times now.
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Richard, come on Richard.
Officer Richard Preston: You think you bully your way into everything.
Richard Taylor: I haven’t bullied my way in, I’ve been invited in by one of my local councillors.
Officer Richard Preston: You haven’t been invited by the person who has organised the meeting.
Richard Taylor: As far as I know the meeting has been organised by the Greater Cambridge City Deal Board.
Officer Richard Preston: No.
Richard Taylor: Well who has it been organised by?
Officer Richard Preston: Me.
Richard Taylor: Well the City Deal Board has also discussed this meeting.
Officer Richard Preston: I’m not going to discuss this. I have an hour’s time with members and you’re using it up. Please leave. Now.
Richard Taylor: And can you tell me who you are?
Officer Richard Preston: You know who I am.
Richard Taylor: Actually I don’t know who you are.
Officer Richard Preston: I’m Richard Preston. Project manager.
Richard Taylor: So what is your role? You’re the project manager for the Histon and Milton Road projects
Officer Richard Preston: Yes.
or is it wider? Are you also the project manager for the ring road?
Officer Richard Preston: No I’m not getting into this debate so please leave.
Richard Taylor: I’m quite interested in what decisions are being made this evening.
Officer Richard Preston: Come and talk about it tomorrow and well talk it .. hours hours, as much time as you want, just leave.
Richard Taylor: So is this covering the whole city?
Officer Richard Preston: Leave. Just Leave.
Richard Taylor: This is a bit ridiculous.
Officer Richard Preston: I don’t care if it’s ridiculous. You’re being ridiculous. Get out. It’s not your meeting. It’s my meeting.
Richard Taylor: But we are discussing civic, public, matters about …
Officer Richard Preston: We are not, I’m having an informal discussion with elected representatives.
Richard Taylor: Who are here to make decisions?
Officer Richard Preston: No there are no decisions being made tonight so please leave.
Richard Taylor: So we will not have decisions made about who can come to the local liaison forums?
Officer Richard Preston: No.
Richard Taylor: This will not be the meeting which determines if Stagecoach and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign will be members?
Officer Richard Preston: No, now please leave.
Richard Taylor: So where will those decisions be made?
Officer Richard Preston: At a formal meeting.
Richard Taylor: Which formal meeting?
Officer Richard Preston: When the members decide to call a formal meeting.
Richard Taylor: Of what body?
Officer Richard Preston: Of whatever body they want to form. That’s the purpose of this meeting. Now would you please leave.
Richard Taylor: So you do mean one of the …
Officer Richard Preston: I’m not discussing this with you
Richard Taylor: You do appear to be and I’m finding things out here.
Officer Richard Preston: You have no right to be here, now please leave.
Richard Taylor: Well I was invited in.
Officer Richard Preston: Evan, can you call the police.
Officer Brian Stinton: Just go to the hall porters first and call the police.
Officer Richard Preston: I’m fed up with your bully boy tactics.
Richard Taylor: I was quite happy to go around the city and try and find this meeting and that was my intent.
Officer Richard Preston: It’s not a public meeting.
Richard Taylor: Well my intent was to stand outside and to interview councillors.
Officer Richard Preston: Well do what you want outside.
Richard Taylor: That’s all I was planning to do. One of my councillors invited me in.
Officer Richard Preston: I don’t care what they invited, invited in. If I suddenly invited myself round to your house at a meeting you were holding with some friends what would you say?
Richard Taylor: Well I don’t think that’s the case. This is councillors here. One of them invited me in, one seems quite keen…
Officer Richard Preston: but it’s not their meeting. It’s my meeting. Now can you please leave.
Richard Taylor: Why don’t the same rules that apply to the full council apply to today’s meeting?
Officer Richard Preston: They don’t apply. This is an informal meeting between officers and members, we have them all the time.
Richard Taylor: So you could have that with the full council could you?
Officer Richard Preston: You just happened to find out about it and you think you can press-gang your way in to it. You’re not doing it.
Richard Taylor: I didn’t just find out about it. It was published on the formal papers of the..
Officer Richard Preston: Not by me.
Richard Taylor: Well it was published.
Officer Richard Preston: Yes, well, you’re not invited.
Richard Taylor: Is that me specifically or the public in general?
Officer Richard Preston: No, the public in general. This is a selective audience, it is a meeting between officers and local members to establish a public forum.
Richard Taylor: Right.
Officer Richard Preston: And once they’ve done that they will set the agenda. It will be their agenda, it will be their agenda, not officers’. At this state this is an officer agenda, and it’s not a local members’ meeting, it’s my meeting, alright? Now can you please leave. You’ve used up already ten minutes of our time and I need you to leave.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : Richard [Preston] you can’t touch him.
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): We’ll just get the police.
Richard Taylor: So do you think you will be able to get a date out of this meeting Cllr Sales, as you promised the North Area Committee?
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): That remains to be seen.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : If it’s like the other LLFs there will be a series of dates coming up, I’m sure there will be a series of dates,
Richard Taylor: Well I’ll look forward to finding out what happens afterwards. So will be publishing the decisions after today’s meeting?
Officer Richard Preston: There won’t be any decisions.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton) : So hang on a minute, we have to publish who the chair and vice-chair are, we did that at the [Chisholm] trail LLF
Officer Richard Preston: To be fair you don’t know what we’re talking about, right, because I haven’t talked it through with you.
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): Can we just calm down?
Officer Richard Preston: The LLF hasn’t, doesn’t, exist. This is to talk to you about how you want to form an LLF.
Officer Richard Preston: I think that’s a tautology Richard.
Cllr Paul Sales (Labour, Arbury): Well we’re not getting on with it with Richard [Taylor] here.
Cllr Mike Todd-Jones (Labour, Arbury): No, we’re not going to do anything.

[Outside]
Richard Taylor: Have they made a decision then?
Cllr David Jenkins (LibDem, Cottenham, Histon and Impington): No, no, no no. They’re just talking about how they can’t make decisions, because it’s all about making recommendations.
Richard Taylor: But the board did ask this meeting to decide who would be members of the forum; are they coming to any conclusion on that then?
Cllr David Jenkins (LibDem, Cottenham, Histon and Impington): They’ve worked out how I can be a member.
Richard Taylor: And you are the county councillor for Histon aren’t you?
Cllr David Jenkins (LibDem, Cottenham, Histon and Impington): Histon yes.
Richard Taylor: That was one of my questions how.. [will representatives of South Cambridgeshire be involved]
Cllr David Jenkins (LibDem, Cottenham, Histon and Impington): It’s people who live in Histon who actually use this stretch of road. But actually a part of my patch is also south of the A14.
Richard Taylor: Orchard Park, yes.

Richard Taylor: Any decisions Cllr Hipkin, do we know who is going to be on the forum?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Hi.
Richard Taylor: Have any decisions been made, do we know who is going to be on the Milton Road Local Liaison Forum?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): We don’t. No. We’ve made no decisions about that.
Richard Taylor: So have you made any decisions then? Did anything come out of this meeting?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): No.
Richard Taylor: So it was a bit pointless then?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Yes.
Richard Taylor: Will there… is there a date? Are we going to have these Local Liaison Forums.
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): Yes.
Richard Taylor: And have we got a date for when they’ll start?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): We’ve got a date for when we’re going to make decisions about when they’re going to start.
Richard Taylor: Oh, so have I actually succeeded in shifting decisions from this meeting to a formal public meeting? Which meeting will decide on the set up of these local liaison forums?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): The next meeting. The next meeting of the forum will be open to the public.
Richard Taylor: Excellent. And what about lobbying. The public, will the public be able to come along and speak?
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): I’m not sure. I’m not the best person to ask.
Richard Taylor: Well I’m going to ask everybody as they come out.
Cllr John Hipkin (Castle, Independent): OK Richard. Bye.
Richard Taylor: Thank you very much and thank you for letting me in earlier.

Richard Taylor: So who’s going to be on the Local Liaison Forums for Milton Road and Histon Road?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): That decision hasn’t been made yet.
Richard Taylor: So did you decide not to make any decisions today and to leave that to a public meeting.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes.
Richard Taylor: That’s excellent. That’s exactly what I thought you really should have done so I’m quite happy about that. Do we know when the first Local Liaison Forums for Histon and Milton Roads will be?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): No. There’s going to be a Doodle poll that’s going to be, the dates that were floated were the 4th, 5th and 6th of July, as in one of those days.
Richard Taylor: and who will be polled?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): The councillors. The local councillors.
Richard Taylor: and what about other bodies, Stagecoach, the cycling campaign?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): To set the day it’s just going to be the local councillors polled.
Richard Taylor: Excellent so you’ve decided not to make any decisions. So we’ve been told that this meeting was to make those kind of decisions, now you’ve put those off now to the first meeting of the forum. Will the public be able to lobby at that first meeting of the forum?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): The problem with that of course question is I can’t answer it because until the forum’s established there’s no terms of reference and there’s no chair. I mean the chair, in most meetings I’ve ever been to the chair has the right to take questions from the floor. Something like that.
Richard Taylor: So when we all turn up to this meeting whenever it is will an officer be in the chair to start with?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes it’s a standard process for any of these sorts of meetings, you’ll then elect a chair and actually there will be two forums, there will be one for Milton Road and one for Histon Road.
Richard Taylor: and who is going to have a vote on who is going to be the chair then.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): The councillors who are there.
Richard Taylor: Just the councillors?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): I presume just the councillors.
Richard Taylor: While that was the decision you were supposed to make at the secret meeting tonight.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Was it? I don’t know.
Richard Taylor: Well on who are the members. Who is going to elect a chair. Well if I turn up I’m not going to have a vote on who is going to be the chair?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): You wouldn’t have a vote on the chair no.
Richard Taylor: So just the councillors. You will then set the terms of reference will you?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes.
Richard Taylor: Including [on] if there will be a right to report, film,..
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes, for example if I was elected chair of it, I’d have a right to film, basically the same procedure we have at the North Area Committee.
Richard Taylor: Presumably there would have to be a vote wouldn’t there?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes, that’s what I was saying.
Richard Taylor: You would propose it, but you might be voted down.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes I suppose so. But I personally I don’t… I think we should have a public speaking slot, because there’s a danger at that first meeting that given that it’s going to be procedural about setting up these forums and how they will run, lots of members of the public are going to turn up wanting to have their say and there’s a danger they won’t get to have their say because all the we will decide is how it’s run and they’ll have to come back next time, now I personally would have a public speaking slot.
Richard Taylor: Now who are you going to tell about these meetings? Actively tell. Will you actively tell Stagecoach? Will you actively tell the cycling campaign? Will you actively tell local residents?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Are you talking about me personally or the council?
Richard Taylor: Well either. Who will be actively informed.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Well the council isn’t going to because you can’t because of course until the meeting starts and the forum is constituted the only members are elected members. The council, you can’t invite groups on the basis they might become members of it.
Richard Taylor: You can invite them to observe, you can invite them to use any public speaking slot which emerges.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Yes I guess you could but I guess the important thing is not whether at that meeting you do or don’t invite people. You set the chair, you set the terms of reference, and at that point you start deciding, the answers to all your questions. So personally yes I would invite, you would want to have loads of interested people.
Richard Taylor: So what did you do behind closed doors here this evening?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): What did we do? Well we just talked about our views on how it might work and what decisions we need to make at the first meeting and what things need to be considered.
Richard Taylor: So you had a discussion a bit like what we just had now about who should be able to observe, about who should be able ..
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): again like just now we didn’t make any decisions and we didn’t make any decisions just now.
Richard Taylor: So was there a discussion on a right of public access to report and film?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Well there was, because I brought up the fact that I thought we should.
Richard Taylor: And what did other councillors think about that then?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): I don’t think it’s very fair of me to sort of.. I mean
Richard Taylor: Well why not? You are the group of people who are making decision about the city.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Well there wasn’t any votes so I can’t really give you a…
Richard Taylor: Well what other view was put forward?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Well there was concerns about the meeting, there could be too many people.
Richard Taylor: Have you ever known a public meeting in Cambridge get too big?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): I have. Once very recently. I think you were at it. I think you were filming. Do you remember the one that the residents residents’ association, Milton Road residents’ association, arranged.
Richard Taylor: I do, and you were at the back behind six or seven people.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): and we did actually interesting we’re probably going to have it at that venue.
Richard Taylor: But was that really a problem?
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): It was because lots of people left. I asked the officers to keep a count and off the top of my head I can’t remember the numbers, but something like twenty-odd people left because they couldn’t get in so it is a problem.
Richard Taylor: Surely the only thing we do there is the next time we hold a meeting on a similar topic we have a bigger hall.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): Well that’s already sorted. We actually have what could have happened, there were two classrooms I found which could have been opened up and that would have dealt with it. But for next time we’ll know.
Richard Taylor: But typically we have a public meeting and it’s none, or one or two people who come to observe.
Cllr Ian Manning (LibDem, East Chesterton): And you shouldn’t be discourage people because then what you have is you don’t have is no-one turning up. Anyway I’m really sorry but I’ve got to go.
Richard Taylor: Well thank you for talking to me.

Additional Videos

In addition to the video embedded above I have made the following available:

Councillors Sales was also filming at the meeting and may have additional footage available.

9 comments/updates on “Attempted Physical Ejection from Greater Cambridge City Deal Meeting on Milton and Histon Roads

  1. anadapter

    A few points. How come Hipkin changes his mind about you attending the meeting? Why do the council have such an issue with meetings being open to the public or allowing the public to speak at them? Why can’t it be standard council policy to allow questions from the public? I agree with you that these Forums should invite interested parties such as the groups you mention as well as Smarter Transport who have thought the schemes through well and suggested some good alternatives that need considering.

    I’ve had difficulty with your approach in the past but I rather feel you might be vindicated here given the less than entirely open stance on the City Deal as a whole.

    1. Mr Richardson

      “How come Hipkin changes his mind about you attending the meeting?”

      Perhaps he just enjoys stirring the pot.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    The officer said:

    Officer Richard Preston: You think you bully your way into everything.

    and

    Officer Richard Preston: I’m fed up with your bully boy tactics.

    I have never bullied my way into anything. As I explained I was invited into the meeting on the 13th of June. Mr Preston may have been thinking of the private Greater Cambridge City Deal briefing event on the 24th of May 2016 on Milton Road which one officer made a point, just outside, of telling me was a private briefing, and I was able to explain I was, in that instance, an invited delegate (The Milton Road Residents’ Association’s had formally given me one of their delegate places and I was on the “guest list” at the door”).

    I always do my best to be polite and respectful.

    I have not received an apology from Mr Preston, Cambridgeshire County Council or the Greater Cambridge City Deal. I will add a further comment if such an apology is forthcoming.

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    I have in the past ignored a Director at Cambridgeshire County Council asking me to leave when I attended to observe a meeting advertised as open to the public. Then, in 2011, I waited to see what view councillors came to, and the councillor in the chair decided to allow the public to observe:

    http://www.rtaylor.co.uk/cambridgeshire-polic-and-crime-strategy-group.html#comment-71641

    I have also sought to observe a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel, a group which must meeting in public according to the same laws which apply to full council meetings – but once, in June 2015, the panel walked out and decided to continue to meet in a “secure area”. I also once came across the panel meeting behind closed doors and stood outside while the “shadow” panel met the Police and Crime Commissioner for the first time. I’ve commented further on the Police and Crime Panel’s practice of holding secret and private meetings.

    On all occasions I have acted reasonably, and politely.

  4. Richard Taylor Article author

    I just want to run through my decisions.

    1. To go out looking for the meeting with a view to publicising what was happening and lobbying councillors on the way in and asking them what happened on the way out.

    I think this was proportionate and justified; the meeting could have determined who had the opportunity to influence major infrastructure schemes involving spending millions of pounds of public money, with potentially significant influence on humanity as a whole, but in particular on the UK economy, and especially those living and working in Cambridge.

    2. To take Cllr Hipkin up on his invitation inside
    Well why not take the opportunity – it was an opportunity to find out more about what was happening, and potentially to report on the debate and decisions.

    3. To wait for the debate on public attendance before leaving
    The decision on when to leave was the hardest one, and it was of course taken in real-time, with no idea before-hand of what would happen. I think it’s perfectly reasonable when someone asks you to do something to seek to clarify who they are and on what basis, and with what authority they are making the request. I think it was right to wait see how the debate initiated by Cllr Manning proceeded. As I had been invited inside I think it was right to seek clarification about the status of the meeting and if it ought, by law, be open to the public to observe. I also wanted to record officer Richard Preston’s actions and comments as I thought they were notable and newsworthy. In addition I wanted to ensure I had a clear record of which councillors were present.

    I think I left at a reasonably appropriate point. Had a police officer been present I would have hoped they would have enabled me to stay for about the same length of time as I did in order to report on what was happening and seek clarification about what was going on.

  5. Richard Taylor Article author

    It appears the meeting to establish the Local Liaison Forum is to be re-run in public; the decision to hold separate meetings for Milton and Histon Roads appears to have been overturned

    As yet the meeting isn’t mentioned at:

    http://www.gccitydeal.co.uk/citydeal/info/2/transport/1/transport_projects_and_consultations/5

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