Hastings and District Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Press release   21 March 2024


Hastings Borough Council broke up in confusion and anger last night after the Mayor refused to let the full council meeting go ahead following questions from the public about a blocked ceasefire motion.

A coalition of councillors from the Green Party and Hastings Independents had tabled a motion to the full council meeting last night which called on council to call 'for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza.'

However, the motion - the third attempt by the Greens to table a ceasefire motion - was blocked by the monitoring officer and, when a member of the public asked for the motion to be put to council at the start of the meeting, the meeting was immediately adjourned by the Labour Mayor Margi O'Callaghan who refused to restart the meeting.

The police were called, though it was not clear the reason for their presence, and nobody was asked to leave the meeting.

Independent Councillor Andy Batsford said afterwards that it was a disgrace and that the motion needed to be heard.

He said: 'I've just never seen anything like it. To have the public in the public gallery making a valid speech before a meeting and then that deemed to be 'dangerous' or 'worrying' to counsellors that led them to leave the council meeting.

'And then for the chief legal officer and the mayor to decide that the meeting was then fully adjourned for the entire time. I've never seen it in all my 13 years of the counsellor here.

'It's a disgrace. That motion needed to be heard. And also, the rest of the business needed to be heard as well. The people that came and made their points clear but succinctly, I think they should be commended and the meeting should have carried on.'

Following the fiasco Independent Councillor Mike Turner said the democratic will of the council was being thwarted.

'In the end the decision is down to the Mayor whether it's heard. You know why? Because Labour probably find this uncomfortable and like the Tories they hold the same position. How many more kids have to die before they do something? It is unconstitutional.'

Councillor Turner added: 'I'm furious about this. We've had a breaching of the constitution here.'

At the start of the meeting concerned local resident Gabriel Carlyle stood up, apologised for interrupting but asked whether the ceasefire motion would be put to council.

He said: 'Can you confirm whether or not that motion will be placed on the agenda? Whether or not councillors in this room who represent are supposed to represent the constituents here will have the opportunity to discuss to debate and vote on the issues of those councillors on the cabinet have decided, are important to the people of this town and do affect the people in this town.'

The monitoring officer confirmed: 'It is not on the agenda and it will not be discussed.'

The meeting was stopped and many councillors then started to leave the council chamber as Mr. Carlyle went on: 'In 2016 Hastings Borough Council was an active supporter of the Holocaust Memorial Day event here in Hastings.

'The theme for that day was 'Don't Stand By' and that is exactly what Hastings Borough Council has done for the last five and a half months.'

A number of other local residents who had accompanied Gabriel stood beside him silently holding signs saying 'Don't Stand By' as Mr Carlyle went on: 'Thirty thousand people have been killed, the vast majority of them of women and children. 1.7 million people have been displaced, many of them multiple times.'

He added 'The International Court of Justice has ruled that there is a prima facie case that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.'

Green and Independent councillors said they planned to propose an amendment to the constitution to allow them to discuss this motion, but then admitted that even if the amendment were passed, they still could not discuss a ceasefire motion until after council elections in May.

The concerned members of the public who had come to hear the ceasefire motion left the chamber of their own accord, but the mayor still refused to start the meeting, even when another councillor offered to chair in her place.

Claims that the residents were asked to leave and refused are false - nobody was asked to leave at any point. The police officer at the scene said no allegations had been made and that everyone seemed 'happy'. In an interview with Danny Pike on BBC Sussex radio on Thursday 21 March Margi O'Callaghan claimed that it was 'really late', there was nothing urgent on the agenda and that's why she decided to put it 'on the backburner.'

However, Becca Horn, Hastings' prospective parliamentary candidate for the Green Party was present in council chambers throughout and said the decision to adjourn the meeting altogether was 'ridiculous' and 'unnecessary' given the majority of the councillors wanted to continue. Ms Horn added that the mayor didn't give a reason for refusing to restart the meeting.


At last night's full council meeting in Hastings, police were called, though it was not clear why and, as this officer confirms, no allegations were made. Nobody was asked to leave the meeting and at the end of the video Councillor Mike Turner confirms that nobody is under threat and implores the officer to help the meeting resume.

Hastings Council meeting suspended by Labour Mayor after motion on Gaza ceasefire blocked from agenda



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