Sir Richard Leese’s promise that the first-ever livestream of a Manchester City Council meeting would be better than daytime television proved true – but not quite in the way he planned.
As the council livestream hit the airwaves, the Manchester City Council Leader was confronted by Stop G4S protestors calling for action on the security firm’s involvement in the West Bank before he could even start proceedings.
While Sir Richard had promised it would be like daytime TV but without the adverts, the resulting melee ensured it kept the drama, even if it was more like Jeremy Kyle than he had hoped.
After a tense exchange, the gatecrashers were informed that their petition was currently ‘in the process of being dealt with’ and that the matter would not be tackled as it was not in the meeting’s minutes.
“You’ve shown a great interest in democracy, you’ve come to disrupt a meeting,” said the council leader, feeling the heat from activists who held up placards in the town hall.
MCR Council Executive to be live streamed tomorrow and then every subsequent meeting. Much better than daytime tv and no adverts!
— Sir Richard Leese (@SirRichardLeese) September 2, 2014
One protestor hit back, pleading with the council to take more urgent action and said: “The reason we’re here is that your process is a sham. It’s not a legal issue, it’s a political issue – and you’re the politicians.”
Sir Leese confirmed that the council had received the petition and he had been alerted to its existence in an email received yesterday.
G4S, who have Home Office contracts that run until 2017, have been the target of criticism nationwide for their allegedly poor human rights record as well as their contracts with the Israeli Prison Service and police.
The Stop G4S movement handed a petition with 3,300 signatures to the world’s largest security company’s chiefs at their June 2014 AGM, calling on them to cease action in Israel.
There has also been similar action in Sheffield and Liverpool and calls for the BBC to boycott the firm.
And they also have their eyes on a protest at the Labour Party conference in Manchester on September 20.
NO ADVERTS… ALL THE DRAMA: Sir Richard Leese at the meeting
However, the 35-minute broadcast, which Sir Leese revealed would become the norm with all meetings available to view online, soon settled down before it did descend into Jeremy Kyle Show-esque daytime TV slanging match.
Items on the agenda included The Etihad Campus Community Engagement Strategy, Manchester Science Park and the acquisition of the Bootle Street police station.
Etihad Campus representatives updated the council on the status of the east Manchester park, which includes the National Squash Centre and The Etihad Stadium among other facilities.
Bosses praised the facilities, saying that there is ‘not a better example globally’ of how to provide sporting facilities and that ‘Glasgow adopted the practices seen here in Manchester’ for this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Councillor Rosa Battle added her approval for the project’s progress since Manchester hosted the 2002 iteration of the games.
“It’s great to see that the people of East Manchester see those facilities as their local facilities as well as producing gold medals,” she said.
On Bootle Street police station’s planned acquisition – reportedly by a consortium including ex-Manchester United Gary Neville – the council approved speaker Sir Howard Bernstein’s recommendations.
The council Chief Executive confirmed that the master plan and framework for the project is at an advanced stage and will be brought to the council’s attention within the next two months.
He also targeted planning permission approval in the early part of next year before commencing development on the site by the end of 2015.
Images courtesy of Manchester City Council livestream, with thanks.