UKIP has been accused of attempting to “sabotage” a charity event intended to get young people interested in politics.
Northumberland youth charity Leading Link blamed the UK Independence Party for its decision to reschedule a Question Time-style event.
And the charity said police were even drafted in to cover a replacement event on Thursday night, in case of disruption.
The question-and-answer event has been held by the Bedlington-based charity for the last four years, and sees a debate between local schoolchildren, members of the public and guests.
It was due held at County Hall in Morpeth on Thursday, and young people had invited representatives from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties to attend.
UKIP were not invited, which the party claimed was “undemocratic”.
Leading Link said it was contacted by a string of regional and national UKIP representative demanding to know why the party had not been invited, with one claiming the charity was contravening various acts.
Charity bosses say they explained that attendees had been selected by the young people and made it clear the event was not linked to May’s general election.
But then, the charity says, several tickets were acquired online in the names of local UKIP figures.
And the organisers took the decision to postpone the event until after the general election.
In place of the cancelled event, a replacement just for the young people was organised with just the current Wansbeck MP, Labour’s Ian Lavery.
And the charity said it had arranged for Northumbria Police to attend, in case of any disturbance.
Charity assistant manager Jonny Hall said:
“The reason why we were holding it was to give these young people a real experience of debating and making a positive change.
“Because we now feel that the spirit would be completely lost and it became a politically-motivated campaign, we have since cancelled it and moved to this closed session instead.
“The whole thing has been completely blown out of proportion. The fact a school debate is having to be cancelled speaks volumes.”
Mr Lavery hit out at UKIP for “jeopardising” the chances of young people getting engaged in politics.
He added: “Lyn (Horton, charity manager) said she has never known anything like this. It is sad we have not had the original event.”
The media officer for UKIP’s Wansbeck branch, said it was “blatantly untrue” to claim the event was not political given the attendance of the other parties.
“Why invite three politicians? And how do you educate the young people if you do not invite all political views?” he said. “It is totally undemocratic.”
“I think they have cancelled because they knew we would get it advertised to the public in Wansbeck. We had kicked up a bit of a fuss.”
Asked if anyone from UKIP would be attending the event, he added: “Nobody knows where it is.”
Northumbria Police confirmed that officers were attending. A spokesperson said:
“Members of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams regularly attend community events to continue to build on the strong links already in place.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 05 Mar 2015
A Northumberland MP has asked a Government minister to investigate the legality of a council’s decision to cancel a meeting where a protest was planned.
Hexham Conservative Guy Opperman has asked Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis to look into Northumberland County Council’s cancellation of the full meeting planned for July 2.
The move angered parents who had planned to campaign outside at the meeting over the council’s recent decision to bring back transport charges for students in post-16 education.
The Labour-run council, however, has defended the decision, and said a Tory request for an extraordinary meeting in place of the cancelled date will have to be granted.
The authority scrapped the meeting, citing a lack of business, and claiming the move would save £18,000.
Tory opponents accused the administration of seeking to avoid public criticism and tabled a request to have an extraordinary meeting, which eleven councillors signed.
Liberal Democrats have also criticised the move with Berwick parliamentary candidate Julie Pörksen vowing to take it up with her party’s ministers.
Mr Opperman has now written to Mr Lewis, saying: “I have been truly shocked by the county council’s attempts to shut down debate and scrutiny of their actions.
“The amount of important decisions the council is taking of late is huge.
“To suggest there is insufficient business to be discussed is at best a head-in-the-sand mentality and at worst it is downright undemocratic.
“It can not be right the council’s administration can hide away in this manner and I would ask you to investigate the legitimacy of what the Labour administration is trying to do.”
Council leader Grant Davey hit back, saying: “There is nothing unusual or illegal about cancelling unnecessary meetings.
“We will not have meetings for the sake of meetings. We have completed the work we need to finish before the summer.
“There has been plenty of time for scrutiny and challenge.
“I am genuinely surprised that cancelling a meeting is being described as illegal. All experienced councillors will know that meetings are routinely cancelled where there is no business to be done.”
On the Tory request for an extraordinary meeting, he said: “Arranging meetings with the sole purpose of creating opportunities for haranguing and maligning the legitimate actions of an elected body does nothing to build the reputation of the council as a responsible body taking difficult decisions.”
Yet he conceded the criteria to hold one had been met: “Where five councillors or more demand that a meeting takes place, we will have to hold one.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 20 June 2014
The Coalition government has finally put its cards on the table, calling for the completion of a ‘free trade’ agreement with the United States of America that will end democracy as we know it today.
Do you think this statement is needlessly hyperbolic? In fact, it probably does not make the point strongly enough!
You will lose the ability to affect government policy – particularly on the National Health Service; after the Health and Social Care Act, the trade agreement would put every decision relating to its work on a commercial footing. The rights of transnational corporations would become the priority, health would become primarily a trade issue and your personal well-being would be of no consequence whatsoever.
Profit will rule.
Also threatened would be any other public service that has been privatised by this and previous governments, along with any that are privatised in the future; all would fall…
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