POLICE were called to a Tumby Bay District Council meeting on Tuesday morning after a member of the public gallery abused the mayor and chief executive officer.
The public gallery member, Peter Brougham, attended the council meeting on Tuesday, and proceeded to call the mayor Laurie Collins and chief executive officer Tony Irvine “liars” when they began discussing the Draft Better Development Plan for Coastal Conservation and General area plan.
Mr Collins said when he saw Mr Brougham enter the council chamber, he assumed he had an interest in the draft plan.
“When that item in the agenda was reached the meeting had a period of informal discussion to allow open and frank debate,” he said.
“Shortly after this discussion commenced the person in the gallery in a loud voice interjected.
“I immediately from the chair reminded that person that he was to remain silent.
“He took no notice of that and made further interjections.”
Mr Collins said he moved from his chair and informed Mr Brougham he had to remain silent and that any further disruptions would leave him no alternative than to call the police to remove him from the chamber.
“This appeared to give him encouragement for further interruption and he taunted me to call the police,” he said.
“I resumed my position in the chair and the councillors continued with the meeting trying to ignore the constant interjections which included calling the mayor a liar.
“During this time one of the senior staff left the chamber and phoned the police.”
Mr Collins said by the time a police officer was able to attend, the meeting had practically finished and he informed the staff member who called the police it would be counterproductive to have the officer enter at that late stage.
“In my 35 years of experience within local government I have never seen such behaviour,” he said.
“While there is a certain amount of understanding that frustration can cause persons to have an outburst of words expressing that frustration, there is no excuse to continue with the type of behaviour after being officially warned.
“As the man made an accusation that I was a liar we will be taking legal advice on options open to us to restore some proper recognition for the positions we hold.”
Under Regulation 30 of the Local Government Act (Procedures at Meetings) Regulations 2000, a member of the public who is present at a meeting of a council or council committee must not behave in a disorderly manner or cause an interruption. The maximum penalty for breaching these regulations is $500.