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Tuesday, 05 March 2013
Sheena Walker, Mark Sharp and Patsy Link from SKIPP.Picture by Mark Cleveland
Protestors forced to remove t-shirts
A GROUP of protesters were forced to sit through a council meeting half naked last week.
Security at Southend Council forced them to take off t-shirts with ‘Scrap the Cabinet’ slogans on them.
Mark Sharp and Patsy Link, who are members of campaign group Saxon King in Priory Park (SKIPP), were made to strip down to the waist.
The slogan is being used as the members of the group find the current cabinet system at Southend undemocratic and want to see a committee based council formed.
Mark, who only had the t-shirt to wear was left baring his chest for the rest of the meeting and wore a gag as members of the public were not allowed to ask questions at the meeting deciding the budgets.
Patsy had to use her coat to cover herself after security asked the pair to remove the t-shirts.
She said: “It was really humiliating, we wanted to draw attention to the fact we think the current system is not working.
“Everyone in the meeting was looking at me and Mark so really the council just drew even more attention to what we were trying to get across.”
Mr Sharp was asked to leave the meeting as a member of the public complained about his partial nudity.
Southend council’s facilities manager, Gary Cullen, explained for safety reasons, 18 months ago, the authority introduced a system to prohibit people from bringing banners, placards and leaflets into the Civic Centre, after incidents where leaflets were thrown from the public gallery into the Council Chamber,
He said: “Two people wearing t-shirts with derogatory slogans on them, exposed these t-shirts and tried to disrupt these meetings.
“As a result, we advised them that they would not be allowed into the public gallery wearing their slogan t-shirts, so they were given a choice of either removing them, covering up the slogans in some way, or not gaining access to the meeting.
“They chose the former.”
Cllr Mark Flewitt, of St Laurence ward, which is home to part of the park, has called for an investigation to be launched into the council's actions.
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