BBC’s Stephen Rhodes kicked out from Eaton Bray footie meeting
Campaigning consumer rights broadcaster Stephen Rhodes led a mass walkout when he was ejected from a parish council meeting for standing up for villagers’ rights.
The former BBC Three Counties Radio presenter had clashed with members of Eaton Bray Parish Council at its February meeting after calling for “greater transparency” over its negotiations with a football club.
The parish council has backed plans by Eaton Bray Lions to build an enclosed all weather pitch on the village green in The Rye. The scheme has caused controversy among residents who say that the amenity is unsuitable for the location.
Mr Rhodes, who lives in Eaton Bray, had been asked by protesters to attend the parish council meeting because they felt that their views were not being considered by members elected to represent them.
“I had no opinion either way on the plan. I’m just a journalist asking questions.
“I wanted to be quite passive but ended up being thrown out.
“My problem was with the arrogance of the man chairing it. He was there representing the parishoners but he was very rude and offensive.”
At the start of every parish meeting the public are invited to take part in a 10-minute public forum. Mr Rhodes said that after speaking he later put his hand up to question a move by the chairman not to minute that part of the meeting.
Tempers hotted up as Mr Rhodes and chairman, Councillor Gordon Johns, squared up to each other.
“I was told that if I didn’t shut up I’d have to leave.
“I believe that things should be done in the open and transparent. If anyone threatens to bully me I will confront them. I will be returning to the March meeting next week.”
Cllr Johns said that the public had been consulted by both the parish council and Central Beds Council for more than 18 months and he assured that they would continue to be consulted before any lease is considered for the club.
He said: “The development is quite contentious. A number of people are vocal in their opposition to it and have been attending parish council meetings to express their opposition.
“The public open forum is not a part of the parish council meeting. It’s for the public to have their say and for us to listen. The public are not allowed to enter into a debate once the meeting proper has started. On this occasion I told everyone that if they didn’t stop interjecting then they would have to leave. I don’t recall being rude.
“Personally I’m fully in favour of the scheme. I live right by the site and I can tell you that the land is hardly ever used by the public.”
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