Members of the public have labelled the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel a ‘shambles’ after they were inadvertently excluded from an extraordinary meeting this afternoon.
The meeting, held at East Lindsey District Council’s Manby HQ, was organised to enable the panel to agree to form a taskforce to investigate the suspension of chief constable Neil Rhodes in February.
But when the meeting closed drama ensued as members of the public were brought into the chamber at 1.15pm, moments after it had been drawn to a close.
Alan Waddington described the events as a ‘shambles’ after travelling 33 miles from Metheringham to watch.
“Nobody came for us, the press were invited upstairs and that was it,” he said.
“I think it was an essential meeting that the public ought to have been admitted to.
“The whole thing is just a shambles.”
Another man labelled the events as a ’disgrace’ and ‘a joke’.
Chairman of the panel Councillor Ray Wootten of South Kesteven District Council tried to calm the situation, apologising to the furious members of the public for the error. He tried to recap the meeting for those who had missed out.
“I can only apologise that you were not in the meeting,” he said.
The meeting was swiftly organised after the suspension of Neil Rhodes by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick was quashed in High Court, however neither were present at the meeting on Thursday.
At the meeting, which lasted just 15 minutes, a taskforce was created which will be led by Chris Cook, an independent member of the panel.
The taskforce will look at the events surrounding the suspension and scrutinise the actions of the commissioner and will be report back in full on September 6.
Also on the panel will be Coun Ian Cartwright of North Kesteven District Council and Anne Welburn of West Lindsey District Council.
Cheryl Warwick from Saltfleetby, near Louth, said after the meeting: “We’d sat all that time waiting to get into what is an important meeting and they forgot about it, I think it’s a total disgrace.
“Not to have heard the proceedings, especially how important the subject was, makes me very disappointed.”
Watch the video to see Councillor Ray Wootten addressing the angry members of the public after the meeting.