Security fears are raised by council

Berwick Town Council is to carry out a review of its security arrangements in the wake of a threatening phone call.

Thursday, 18th August 2016, 09:25 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 18:41 pm

Councillors felt the incident should be acted upon, especially following the recent murder of Jo Cox MP.

Security officers attended a recent council meeting and could be asked to return if there is considered to be a threat.

Cllr Hazel Bettison said: “This happened just after an MP had been killed. It was a real threat which went to the police and we did the right thing.”

Councillors had also been subjected to threats, revealed Cllr Gordon McLean.

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However, Cllr Georgina Hill called for a degree of proportionality and said the attendance of security officers had been an over-reaction.

She said: “In the absence of any credible threat or specific police advice, I don’t think we should turn the chamber into Gatwick Airport.”

But Mayor Ivor Dixon said: “We have a duty of care to our staff and at the time I took that decision to have security. It wasn’t costing us very much. We are playing it by ear.”

The debate then turned into an ugly spat after Cllr Karin Graham alleged the Code of Conduct was being broken regularly on social media by biased slants on council matters.

She said: “I personally believe the social media situation with this council is hampering our security. The social media attention received in this town from certain facebook pages is totally biased, totally unfair and reflects very badly on a hard-working council.”

Cllr Hill retorted: “I am sick of being blamed for everything. The town clerk got a threatening phone call from a member of the public - a man. I got the blame somehow.”

She then launched a verbal volley of allegations at Cllr Graham which resulted in the pair trading insults.

Cllr Anne Forbes said the security situation should be monitored.

Cllr Paul Hodgson suggested a risk assessment should be undertaken.

It was agreed to monitor the situation and undertake a risk assessment.