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Angry scenes at council meetings

There were angry scenes at a planning committee in Camden the other week, as one of the objectors stormed off shouting obscenities. What can councils do about them?

Scenes like the one at Camden are unusual, but happen if residents feel unempowered, for instance from a lack of consultation from the council or developer, or from a lack of awareness from the resident. 

It’s also the case that our consumerist society makes it harder for some people to accept where they don’t get the planning outcome they want.  

Unfortunately, some councils will take the wrong message from this type of event, encouraging them to continue hybrid meetings where residents have to take part online. 

Ultimately, we should remember that planning committees are not public meetings, but meetings held in public, and it is incumbent on the chair to maintain good order. 

A certain amount of expression from the audience should be encouraged, including some cheering or booing, but councillors have a job which is to decide on applications, and they should be allowed to do that in a civil atmosphere.

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