COUNCILLORS have slammed the decision to call police to a Town Hall council meeting last year after a copy of the log has revealed the other incidents officers could have been attending at the same time.

Police were called in December last year to a full council meeting by Mayor Peter Carey after Clr Kevin Bennett (LAB - Fairfield and Howley) refused to leave during an hour-long stand-off.

A Warrington Guardian Freedom of Information request found while officers dealt with the squabble, police were also called to four incidents of anti-social behaviour, one domestic incident, one theft and arrested a man on Chester Road for drink driving.

Clr Kevin Bennett (Fairfield and Howley - LAB) said: “I think the public have a right to know that by using the police to stop an elected member from using his constitutional right to speak is disgraceful and could have serious consequences for the public.

“The police are better utilised by being out on the streets and not at the Town Hall where there was no threat to anyone.”

Clr Ian Marks said the incident was ‘most unfortunate’ and agreed nobody could dispute it was ‘not the best use of police time’.

He added: “It certainly can’t have done the council any good in the eyes of the public as the whole episode does not show councillors in a good light.

“It’s in the past now and I hope we won’t be seeing an incident of this kind again.”

Councillors said the meeting in December was already heated after a question from Clr Bennett had been withdrawn before a previous meeting.

After making what was described by fellow councillors as a ‘serious allegation which caused uproar in the chamber’, Clr Bennett was told to leave the meeting but refused to do so.

Clr Bob Barr (Lymm - LD) said the ‘knee-jerk reaction’ calling the police showed ‘how deep the divisions in the Labour group were’.

He added: “So far as I am concerned the incident was due to a break down of discipline in the Labour Group and an over-reaction by the Mayor at the time.

“I believe that this (calling the police) was the wrong decision as the matter should have been dealt with internally.

“Since the national Labour Party was called in to intervene and discipline the local party, behaviour in the Labour Group has improved, but one must wonder whether they are fit to lead the town while such dissent continues.”