The right to protest

Just wanted to clarify something after seeing this article in the Gazette, and especially the headline on the print version which may have given the impression that the Council is somehow planning to restrict the right to protest in Colchester.

I can state quite explicitly that we’re not considering that at all.

What happened was that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition – who’s also Deputy Chairman of the Crime and Disorder Committee – decided that he wanted the Committee to discuss the student protests in the High Street because he didn’t like the disruption they caused. However, after listening to him, the local Chief Superintendent of police and various others (including protesters) the Committee decided that there really wasn’t anything to worry about. The only thing they decided is mention in the report, right at the end:

The committee decided to consult bus companies to see what could be done to limit disruption to their services in the event of another protest.

But I guess that doesn’t make for many dramatic front page headlines.

To reiterate, the parties that currently run Colchester Borough Council wouldn’t do anything to try and restrict people’s fundamental rights like this. Whether the Opposition might try something like that if they were to get into power here is something you’d have to ask them.

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Two in one

Two committee meetings in one night last night, as Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Panel was followed by the first meeting of Colchester’s Crime and Disorder Committee. This is a new committee we’ve been required to create by the Government to scutinise the work of our local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership. Rather than set up an entirely new committee to do this, we decided to make it part of the SOS Panel’s work – technically, it’s a separate committe, but it has the same membership as the SOS Panel, and meets after that meeting is finished.

So, we got to interview senior police officers and talk about crime statistics. I must admit that thanks to my TV-watching habits of recent weeks it was hard not see the similarities with The Wire and imagine myself in a Comstat meeting. Of course, it turns out that I wasn’t the only politician having delusions about parallels between Britain and David Simon’s vision of Baltimore, but I chose not to make a big speech about mine.

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