Protests and petitions made for a tumultuous night at Kingston Council (RBK) during a full council meeting on Tuesday (July 10).

Protestors wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan "bollocks to transparency" disrupted proceedings to voice their dissent for plans they claimed would derail openness in the way RBK operates.

Meanwhile, several petitions, each signed by hundreds of residents, were presented and will now be debated by councillors.

One called for the re-establishment of a town council in New Malden (Malden and Coombe), which was disbanded and merged with RBK in 1965.

Another examined the opposition of many residents in Kingston to new development plans that could see thousands of new homes built in the borough in the coming years, while a third signed by thousands of residents called on RBK to protect funding for Kingston's Rose Theatre.

Surrey Comet:

One of those attending council to protest the proposed reforms on engagement and transparency told the Comet the protests were a response to "double-standards" by the Lib Dem majority at RBK.

"The ruling Liberal Democrats have plans top severely restrict residents' participation in the democratic process and to close transparency at the council, which goes completely against what they promised in their manifesto," said campaigner James Giles, who sported a "bollocks to transparency" and "bollocks to engagement" t-shirt during the council meeting.

He referenced a leaked council document, seen by the Comet in April, which suggested plans to limit time for public speaking and make it 10 times as difficult to bring a decision to the scrutiny panel by increasing the threshold for the number of signatures a petition needs for consideration.

"Already now we have the council leadership blocking people from asking questions at council meetings, the removal of the press desk from council meetings...ultimately they forget who pay their wages.

"We put you where you are and we can take you away too," Mr Giles said, directing his comments at RBK's Lib Dem councillors.

The t-shirts themselves were an aside to a similar protest conducted by Lib Dem MEPs recently elected to sit at the European Parliament in Brussels, who attended a session wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan "bollocks to Brexit".

The protestors were threatened with ejection from the council meeting by the Mayor Margaret Thompson over the t-shirts, on the grounds the language was "not acceptable", despite the fact that Kingston's own Lib Dem MP Ed Davey previously defended use of the term regarding the "Bollocks to Brexit" protests.

Responding to accusations that RBK's leadership was planning to derail transparency and engagement, a spokesperson for the council said: "We welcome views and feedback from residents and are working hard to make it as easy as possible for people to share their views.

"We want to make sure that we’re hearing views from communities across the borough. We hold workshops throughout all areas of Kingston so we can talk to people about issues that affect them in their communities...Engagement is at the heart of everything we are doing."

Several high-profile petitions were also submitted to RBK during the evening, including one reportedly containing over 16,000 signatures to demand the protection of council funds for the Rose Theatre, which was recently threatened with closure.

Another represented a possible first step in the reestablishment of the Malden and Coombe Council, which merged with Kingston in 1965.

Enough borough residents signed to trigger a debate at RBK, under terms of a 2007 law called The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act, 2007, which moves the decision to set up a new local council with local authorities.

Meanwhile, a different petition reflected the entrenched opposition from some residents in the borough to proposals for expanding development and building new homes in Kingston.

Created and presented to RBK by campaigner Caroline Shah, the petition opposes proposals to increase the numbers of homes in Kingston by some tens of thousands, in line with increased housing targets issued by the Mayor of London in 2016.

Ms Shah and the signatories said that RBK want to impose the new developments on residents without sufficient public support or consultation.

"It appears that the Greater London Authority and Kingston Council have acted in unison to bypass residents’ democratic rights and their own decision-making systems so that they can force their development plans on the residents of the Borough...their plans are completely flawed," Ms Shah said.

Aside from the more dramatic moments at the full council meeting Tuesday, a motion to improve how RBK tackles hate crime in the borough received praise and cross-party support from councillors.