BARNET Council leader Lynne Hillan says a decision not to allow residents into empty seats in the public gallery was “nothing to do with me”.

There were angry scenes as several people were stopped from entering the gallery during the debate on this year’s budget at Hendon Town Hall last night.

Although police had given the green-light for people to go in the council’s private security contractors blocked their entry, in a bid to prevent further disruption.

Despite pleas from Labour and Lib Dem councillors Mayor of Barnet Anthony Finn, who chaired the meeting, refused to let them in, initially saying it was on police advice.

Today Cllr Hillan denied she had anything to do with employing the security staff, or barring the public.

She told the Times Series: “The mayor’s in charge of the meeting it’s his decision. Democratic services and the monitoring officer employed the security for the meeting as they always do.

“As far as I’m aware they were in charge of the situation and used their judgement. It was nothing to do with me.

“It’s down to the mayor to chair the meeting and I thought he chaired it very well. “ Some members of the public were permitted to take video clips of the proceedings, which Cllr Hillan had said would not be allowed to happen despite guidance from local government minister Bob Neil.

But she said there had been no official resolution to allow it, adding: “It is up to the mayor to decide. He obviously didn’t think people filming was causing a nuisance. There was no-one there with a video camera and spotlight or anything like that.

“I don’t think we were about to pick people up bodily and throw them out of the meeting unless we really had to.”