11 Dec 2011

Tory Councillor attempts to have Hospital Campaigner arrested

Marc Green, an anti-cuts and Green Party activist from Windsor was threatened with arrest (Marc is holding the anti-Heatherwood closure banner on the left)

On Saturday 10 December the campaign to Save Heatherwood Hospital took a strange and sinister turn as Castle Without Councillor George Bathurst attempted to have Heatherwood Hospital Campaigner Marc Green arrested.

Windsor and Slough against the Cuts was holding its weekly stall collecting names on our petitions as we have been doing since June. The stall was in its usual location on Peascod Street close to the Post Office in an open pedestrian area. As ever the stall was proving a popular attraction to many local people with health workers, patients and other members of the community signing the petition.
Nearby local councillors from the Borough were holding a surgery in a large van.

Without any warning or provocation Conservative Councillor George Bathurst approached Marc Green and addressed him by his name. He asked Marc whether he had a license for the stall. Marc Green said he didn’t and responded that he didn’t need one. George Bathurst said that he did and told Marc to stop collecting signatures and close the stall. Marc Green refused and said he would carry on as he had for the past 5 months. George Bathurst then stated that he would “report” Marc to the Town Centre manager and have him “arrested”. All this took place in front of Marc’s 11 year old son.  Following this exchange George Bathurst made a phone call to Paul Roach the town centre manager. Fellow councillors Eileen Quick, Sue Evans, Colin Rayner and Malcolm Beer were present and appeared to do nothing to prevent this from happening.

At approximately 12.15pm after the Councillors had packed up and left a council official came by and asked if we had license. Marc Green repeated that we didn’t need one (see below). He felt we did. Marc gave him his name and address so they could send info.  It should be noted that there is nothing on the RBWM website to suggest a license is required.

At approx 1.05PM as we were finishing up a police sergeant came along. The Town centre manager Paul Roach had called the police to investigate what was happening. She demanded Marc’s name and address. Marc refused to provide it as there is no legal obligation to do so. The police officer repeatedly asked for the name and address despite Marc confirming the legal position to her. He asked for what purpose. She replied for “future reference to log on their system”

All of the events outlined were witnessed and can be verified. The threat to have Marc arrested and the interrogation by the Sergeant were targeted at Marc Green and were played out in front of his 11 year old son. No other participants on the stall were addressed by George Bathurst or the Police Sergeant. As such it should be seen as politically motivated.

Marc Green will be making a formal complaint against Councillor George Bathurst as a clear breach of the Councillors Code of Conduct (sections 3 and 5). This is a clear case of personal and political bullying, bringing the office into disrepute and an abuse of office. It is shocking he subjected a young boy to the threat of his father’s arrest whose only “crime” was to exercise his democratic rights. Furthermore we call on the Tory Group leader to suspend George Bathurst from the Conservative group pending an investigation in his conduct. We would also like to have a fuller explanation of the role fellow councillors played on the day in turning a blind eye or complicity in attempting to have Marc arrested.

Marc Green has also raised the issue with Dave Burbage the council leader and called for George Bathurst’s suspension from the Conservative Group pending an investigation.

Marc Green commented “This is a clear attempt to stifle free speech and democracy in Windsor. We have an absolute right to collect signatures on our petition to Save Heatherwood Hospital. We will continue to hold our weekly stall and will not be bullied, harassed or intimidated by a councillor whose ignorance of the law is truly disappointing”

The following issues should be noted:-
1.       There is nothing on the RBWM website which outlines any requirement to have a license for a campaigning stall
2.       It is a long standing tradition for political parties, campaigning groups to hold stalls in this area
3.       Councillors have seen us over the months and have never raised an issue. Indeed fellow Tory Councillor Bicknell had signed the petition on a similar occasion.
4.       It is our Right to have a stall or protest and this is enshrined under the Human Rights Act which supersedes any local bureaucratic regulations. Peascod Street is a public space.
For more information please contact Marc Green on 07720298117
Further background material
Marc Green is a leading member of the Green Party in Windsor and a founder member of the Save Heatherwood Hospital Campaign.


South of the River said...

Shameful. All of the Councillors involved should account to the Standards Board. The police didn't so themselves any credit either.

stevekain said...

How about complaining about the police officer, as well, whose ignorance of the law is even more shameful, and who appeared to be prepared to do the bidding of a councillor without giving any thought to the legality or justice of their demands?

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