A Lewisham Council meeting descended into chaos, with all members of the public kicked out and police called.

Unsatisfied with councillor responses to questions relating to chief executive Ian Thomas, the Tidemill development and proposals to rebuild Lewisham Library, angry residents chanted “Ian Thomas”, “vote them out” and “Egan out.”

Various local groups including People Before Profit, Catford Against Social Cleansing and Save Tidemill, Save Reginald were protesting outside the council building ahead of the meeting.

Public frustrations began building when residents queuing outside the council building were told only those who had submitted a public question would be able to attend.

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Once inside, sound issues plagued the meeting with those in the public gallery struggling to hear councillors.

The microphone provided to those asking questions regularly cut out, forcing some to yell across the council chamber.

Councillors also banged on tables, making it difficult for the public gallery to hear what was being said on several occasions.

Public outrage peaked when the chairwoman said she would skip a public questioner, who is visually impaired, from finishing her question when she was having trouble reading it from her notes.

Further councillor responses to public questions about the council’s approach towards serious youth violence and black students, as well as question about a document chief executive Ian Thomas may have authored before he stood down from the role on October 29, also sparked anger in the public gallery.

But the meeting finally descended into chaos about an hour in, following chairwoman Cllr Jacq Paschoud’s announcement “I am standing up and when I stand up everybody sits down and shuts up.”

Yelling and jeers drowned out the council PA system.

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Cabinet members and councillors then began leaving their desks while there were still public questions left on the agenda.

Security began asking members of the public to leave the gallery, with police called to remove Save Lewisham Libraries campaigner Alice Corble, who wanted to stay for the rest of the meeting.

She said: “I was here to listen, because there were a number of questions about libraries.

“No one formally announced the meeting was over so I wanted to stay and see what happened.”

She tried to explain to security that she was a member of the public who had not been yelling but wanted to hear the rest of the meeting, she said.

But she finally left when police were called and she was threatened with a public disorder notice for breaching the peace, she said.

“Police came and they were going to physically carry me out,” she said.

“At no point was any public declaration made that it was over or that I wasn’t allowed to be there.

“This is an absolutely not democratic, transparent or open council,” she said.

The council meeting carried on once the public gallery was empty.

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “We implemented public questions at council meetings in order to be more open and democratic. We’ve enshrined this right in our constitution but sadly a small number of people used the opportunity to disrupt the meeting. Despite repeated warnings from the Chair of the Council that the time for supplementary questions was running out, the actions of some prevented others from speaking. The amount of time for public questions is set out in the council’s constitution, is displayed on a screen and was made clear before questions began.

“Unfortunately, due to the actions of those intent on disrupting the meeting, everyone was asked to leave the public gallery. This was a decision that was made on safety grounds after the Chair of the Council adjourned the meeting. We share the frustrations of those who were not able to stay for the remainder of the meeting or ask their supplementary public questions because of the actions of some protestors.”