Council protesters be warned

SECURITY guards will be called to clear the public gallery of Tweed Shire Council if protesters again disrupt or try to intimidate councillors, Tweed mayor Warren Polglase warned yesterday.

Cr Polglase foreshadowed tough action against any repeat of protests at last week’s council meeting when supporters of Greens Party councillor Katie Milne applauded her comments and jeered other councillors.

Some councillors have since said they found the antics, which included protesters jeering decisions or comments they did not like, to be intimidating.

“It was one of the worst galleries we have ever had,” said Cr Polglase, who pointed out that even when hundreds of people had attended the council meeting over specific controversial issues in the past the crowds had been better behaved.

He said other members of the public who had attended last week’s meeting for parti- cular matters had to put up with the antics of the protesters and “had placards poked in their faces”.

“You have a right to protest, but you don’t have a right to interfere with other people,” he said.

Cr Polglase said the issue was being discussed among councillors and he was likely to take a tough line at the next meeting on November 17.

“If there are disruptions we will probably clear the gallery,” he said. “That will be disappointing, because if you clear the gallery you have to clear the whole gallery.

“People should let the chamber be a place of government for the Tweed.”

Cr Polglase said the “process” for clearing the gallery would involve the councillors adjourning for “five or 10 min- utes” while general manager Mike Rayner asked security guards to ensure the public left.

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