Richmond council leader warns protestors to 'regulate' anti-Thames Water chanting

By Heather Nicholls

4th Dec 2023 | Local News

Outside the YMCA Hawker Centre where a TDRA consultation was held 20 November. (Photo: WhatPub)
Outside the YMCA Hawker Centre where a TDRA consultation was held 20 November. (Photo: WhatPub)

Richmond Council leader Cllr Gareth Roberts has called on protestors to 'regulate' chanting as Thames Water failed to attend in-person to a public meeting. 

Around one hundred campaigners chanting 'Thames Water to the slaughter' at a Teddington River Abstraction consultation (20 November) led to the company's decision to virtually attend the public meeting (27 November) on Microsoft Teams.  

Responding to a public question at a council meeting on 28 November, Cllr Roberts said: "I would suggest for future marches, for future demonstrations, I would perhaps suggest protestors regulate or moderate their chanting because all you do is give corporations the opportunity to either not attend or attend online." 

The Lib Dem council leader argued the chanting was not "helpful and it "aided [Thames Water] in their decision not to attend". 

A Thames Water spokesperson cited two staff members sustained "minor injuries", to which Cllr Roberts said he had to take at "face-value". 

Cllr Roberts added: "If somebody feels they have been racially abused, we will take it at face-value. If someone feels they have been victim of misogyny, we will take it at face-value." 

The response follows a public question from Mr Philip Moshi who asked whether the leader of the council will hold Thames Water to account for failing to adhere to the Nolan Principles of service in the public life.  

Reflecting on Thames Water's physical absence from the public consultation, Mr Moshi said: "It was an astonishing discourtesy to residents, to a lot of the organisations, and members of all political parties in the borough who were present yesterday.   

"Having failed to observe the two principles of accountability and openness, may I ask the leader of the council, how he feels Thames Water are adhering to the other five remaining Nolan Principles. And can I seek his assurance that he will hold them to account if they should fail to adhere to them, as they failed to adhere to them last night." 

Cllr Roberts acknowledged it was "not ideal" for Thames Water to appear online, but they felt "unsafe". 

"We will always hold Thames Water to account," Cllr Roberts continued. "We will always try to ensure as much as we possibly can they will uphold the seven principles as described."  

"However, I would suggest that this circumstance...and their decision not to come was not so black and white as originally thought."  

     

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