A council meeting descended into chaos last night when two members of the public began filming inside Middlesbrough Town Hall.
The meeting was halted just minutes after the new chairman was agreed as Cllr Bob Kerr.
Made aware of the filming taking place, he asked the men to cease filming.
When the men refused to put down the cameras and stop filming, two police officers entered the council chamber to speak to the men.
The chairman then suspended the meeting and left the chamber.
After several minutes he returned to ask everyone to evacuate the building and congregate in the quadrangle outside.
After a 30 minute delay, councillors, the media and members of the public – except the men with cameras who were prevented from re-entering the building by the police – returned and the meeting resumed.
Beechwood ward Cllr Joan McTigue said: “It is a public meeting and councillors themselves tweet away to people outside – what is being said and by whom etc. Therefore I see no problem with it being filmed and put into the public domain.”
Last June Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles published a guide which states councils should allow the public to film, blog and tweet council meetings.
But the chairman said: “According to 25.2 of the Constitution no photography or filming can take place. The chair has the authority according to the Constitution of asking and if necessary forcing anyone doing so to leave.”
When the meeting resumed, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward councillor Len Junier proposed an amendment regarding allowances that every councillor in the authority should take a 5% cut for the next two years.
Mayor Ray Mallon accused him of speaking to the press saying it was “narrow-minded”.
He said: “If I had my way I would give them a bit of a pay rise. A 5% cut would be minimal, it would not be a pin prick in relation to the savings.”
The majority voted against the amendment.
Middlesbrough Conservative leader Chris Hobson submitted a proposal to alter the new senior management structure which she said would save the local authority £363,000. Mr Mallon said he would meet with her to discuss it further. Six voted for it, 34 against.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 15 May 2014