My first attendance of Anston Parish Council was to be all about Rotherham Council’s local plan and the programme of housebuilding which could see our greenbelt swallowed up by hundreds, possibly thousands of houses over the next 15 years. I didn’t expect much satisfaction when we raised the question of whether Anston would follow Dinnington’s lead and object formally to the latest round of consultation. The chairman Mr Beck said it could be discussed at the next meeting, conveniently forgetting that it would be too late by then.
The few rational voices on the Council were drowned out as Mr Beck’s cronies fell over themselves to bury an issue which is proving to be a major embarrassment for the local Labour party.
What happened next really took me by surprise, however.
An elderly chap called Mr Lewis has asked a question earlier concerning a complaint he had with another Councillor who was not present today. Not placated by Mr Beck’s evasive and unhelpful answers Mr Lewis refused to sit down and doggedly insisted that his emailed complaint was read out in full.
Mr Beck didn’t like this challenge to his authority, and tried repeatedly to censure Mr Lewis by warning him that if he wasn’t quiet he would be asked to leave. Mr Lewis is made of sterner stuff and kept on insisting that he was entitled to a full answer and asked time and again for his complaint to be read out to the Council. Finally to try and assert his dubious authority Mr Beck ordered Mr Lewis from the room, Mr Lewis refused to go and so Mr Beck left the room saying he was going to fetch the Police. He returned some time later with the meeting adjourned and we all settled down to see what would happen.
It was actually quite pleasant as the room broke up into smaller groups which allowed those of us representing various issues to talk one on one with the Councillors and much constructive discussion took place. Without knowing it Mr Beck had transformed the meeting into a useful brainstorming session.
Time passed and then some more time passed, the Police were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were fighting crime, or perhaps they already knew what we were beginning to realise, that Mr Beck is a twit.
Finally with half the room remaining and people rubbing their eyes and yawning Mr Beck once again took his seat to declare the meeting closed. All of a sudden who should appear but two Police officers, up jumped Mr Beck, and started explaining to the officers why he wanted the vile disabled pensioner physically removed from the hall.
It should be said that whilst Mr Lewis was very determined and rather loud he never exhibited rude or offensive behaviour, he was never threatening or even overly disruptive, he simply would not be brow beaten by the local little Hitler.
I started to film the scene at this point as I genuinely thought I was going to witness an elderly fellow dragged away by the Police for standing up to the local bully.
It was left to others to point out to Mr Beck that as he had declared the meeting closed there wasn’t really a meeting for Mr Lewis to be ejected from. Faced with this logic the Police made a dignified exit and handled the situation superbly. My video footage won’t be ending up on YouTube. There are people on it who are innocent of Mr Beck’s brutal democracy and they may not appreciate it.
Comedy quote of the night must go to Mr Beck, however as the Police went to leave, “But officers, officers, this gentlemen is getting in the way of democracy!”
Oh, Mr Beck… How embarrassing… You really are a twit.