Downham Market council fear 'safety' at future events
The long awaited Downham council meeting last night brought up issues of "safety" after some members of the council were "worried about" attending the meeting.
The meeting, which follows uproar from members of the public at the removal of two market trader's licences, had a high turnout, despite the cold weather.
The mayor Jenny Groom said: "Many councillors were concerned about coming tonight" and expressed "safety concerns" for future events.
A security team had been hired for the night and manned both the front and back entrances of the Jubilee Centre, only permitting those on a pre-arranged list inside.
Ms Groom said: "Any inappropriate comments and behaviours will be dealt with seriously, after the disruption of the public at the last meeting they have been councillors who are worried about attending this meeting."
Councillor Jackie Westrop said: "We have to do a risk assessment for future events such as a Halloween and the Christmas light switch on as there are children there."
Some took to social media after the event claiming "the council doesn't trust us around children" however others think that to be an "exaggerated assumption".
Earlier in the month, a group of councillors and the clerk admitted they were "anxious to step into Downham" and in particular the Market Square after the furore with market traders and other members of the council, who believe the licence removal was done "unlawfully".
Much to the disappointment of the crowd outside Ms Groom said: "Due to the high volume of questions this month we will be responding to questions on the website and not in this meeting."
A member of the public Mr Grover said: "I asked for a full public meeting, and if this could be done - why was my question not answered? I was given a copy and paste reply."
Another member of the public said:"Are the council likely to give the stallholders leeway and if they do not enter into discussion with the traders why not?
"You say there are now 23 stall holders on the market so where are they? You say the market has never been so busy!
"Are the council happy to be considered jobsworths and emotionless?"
This was met with loud cheers from the crowd outside.
Ms Groom reinforced her earlier statement that "no answers will be given tonight."
She also said: "I will not continue the meeting if the public continue to make noise."
An agenda item from councillor Rachel Hepworth concerning the market traders was withdrawn amid concerns of "criticism".
She said: "I have withdrawn this item because I don't feel I can do that without exposing myself to criticism from certain quarters.
"My proposal is a constructive and passive passage (about the market) but some would suggest I have a prejudiced interest.
"I'm disappointed and frustrated."
Councillor David Sharman said it was "the most sensible thing he had heard on the council in years".