Press and public kicked out of meeting

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An annual town council meeting descended into chaos after an Express journalist and members of the public were thrown out.

Hemsworth Town Council chairman Tony Upson - who was re-elected head of the council at the beginning of last Tuesday’s meeting - claimed residents were too rowdy after a handful started complaining that they could not hear what was going on.

Life rings are going missing at Hemsworth water park. Coun Tony Upson and Shirley Gilliver-Cooper

Life rings are going missing at Hemsworth water park. Coun Tony Upson and Shirley Gilliver-Cooper

Section 5a of the Local Government Act 1972 states that journalists should be afforded reasonable facilities for the purpose of reporting proceedings. But Coun Upson also excluded the press.

Coun Upson, who issued a final warning telling residents and independent councillors that it was not their chance to speak, said: “I am moving to exclusion of press and public.”

It was the second time in less than a month residents have been asked to leave, after the annual town meeting was abandoned before public question time in April.

Ray Warren, of Vissett Close, said: “It is a disgrace.”

Denise Cook, of Westfield Road, said Coun Upson might have been better throwing out just the troublemakers but agreed some residents were out of order. She said: “Certain people go to that meeting to stir things up.”