Two independent councillors on Gedling Borough Council claim they have been ‘gagged’ by the Mayor of Gedling Borough Council, after a motion they proposed on the unfolding situation in Gaza was deemed ‘not relevant’ for debate at a council meeting.
The motion had been put forward by independent councillors Russell Whiting and Des Gibbons with the aim of ‘recognising the distress being caused’ to residents in Gedling borough by the bombing of Gaza. It also called for the freeing of hostages.
The councillors said they also wanted to the motion to be an opportunity to thank community leaders for their work in bringing people together and exploring ways in which the events can be marked in the Borough.
Mr Whiting and Gibbons said that a similar motion was passed shortly after the start of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
They said the motion had been agreed by the Council’s Monitoring Officer and Chief Executive – but had now been withdrawn on the order of the Mayor.
Councillor Russell Whiting, who represents Colwick Ward, said “We are elected to speak for our residents, and people in Colwick have been telling me how deeply they are affected by the scenes they are witnessing in Gaza.
The fact that Councillors will no longer have the chance to thank community leaders in Gedling borough, condemn the rise in Antisemitism and Islamaphobia and add the voice of Gedling Borough Council to others calling for a ceasefire is a huge disappointment.
“I know that people across the Borough will still want to see this issue debated – and we are currently exploring how we can facilitate this in the future.”
Councillor Des Gibbons, who represents Bestwood St Albans Ward, said “Democracy demands that the views of Councillors are heard within the Council Chamber on the important issues of the day, not just those which directly affect Gedling but those having reverberations around the world.
“To have this chance removed when we had worked hard with Council Officers to submit a motion which was compliant with the rules is deeply disappointing.
He Added: “We will continue to add our voices to the thousands in Gedling borough who want to see an end to this conflict and peace in the region”
But Mayor of Gedling, Councillor Julie Najuk said the motion wasn’t permitted as Gedling Borough Council ‘does not have national foreign policy powers, duties or responsibilities’.
She said “At November’s meeting of Full Council I proposed and led a minute’s silence, which was observed by all Gedling Borough councillors, for all the innocent lives lost as a result of the horrifying situation in the Middle East, as well as in other atrocities taking place around the world.
“My thoughts are with all those affected by the horrific ongoing situation in Gaza, Israel & the Middle East. I continue to pray for a sustainable ceasefire.
“The motion in question is not permitted by the Council’s Constitution because the Council does not have national foreign policy powers, duties or responsibilities.”