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Mob confronts councillors

Thursday, 9th May, 2013

By Erica Visser

An angry mob led by a byelection candidate descended on several City Councillors yesterday as they left the Council Chambers following a budget meeting.

Around 20 members of the public attended the Council meeting held yesterday afternoon to adopt the budget which proposes cutting the rates paid by the mining companies and raising those of ratepayers.

Some of the people congregated outside the Council Chambers and verbally abused councillors as they left the building.

One man followed Deputy Mayor Darriea Turley down the path screaming, "Son of Satan!"

She said that the "mob mentality" had taken over and that it was not a proper way of raising matters of concern with councillors.

However, the main offender was former councillor and by-election candidate Tom Kennedy who yelled abuse both generally and at individual councillors.

"You should be strung up, the lot of you!" he said.

He also abused Councillor Jim Nolan, who struggled to walk past the group given he is using a walking stick at the moment.

Clr Nolan arrived late to the budget meeting.

"Five minutes you were there, Jim! Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic," Mr Kennedy said.

Clr Branko Licul was also caught up in a heated exchange with some of the people at the meeting.

But Clr Licul played down the incident, stating that it was an "emotional" time.

"There's obviously some angry people here and there were some hot words exchanged," he said.

"But like I said, emotions can run high around these issues."

The BDT understands that the crowd was made up of members of an online community, headed by Mr Kennedy, which is particularly critical of Council.

Clr Nolan said that the events were an overreaction, given Council was merely adopting a draft budget for public display.

"The point is, the public now have their chance to have a say on this document."

The operational plan was adopted by the majority, with only Councillor Bob Algate voting against the $7.6 million deficit.

It included reducing mine rates from 26 to 20 per cent of the total rate base, with residents and business owners making up the difference, 50:50.

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