Police probe fracas at gypsy meeting

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POLICE are looking into an allegation a man was assaulted at a public meeting to discuss where to put gypsy and traveller sites in Hartlepool.

A disturbance between two men took place at Masefield Road Community Centre, in Hartlepool, during a heated debate of the controversial issue.

Council officers presented information to around 70 members of the public, including children, about where gypsy and traveller sites could be earmarked.

The fracas between two members of the public broke out around an hour into the meeting.

One man left the meeting as a result and the incident was reported to police later.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “Police received a third party report at around 9.05pm on Wednesday that an assault had occurred at a meeting at around 5.30pm on Masefield Road in Hartlepool. Police are looking into the matter.”

It has also been reported to the council, which says it is stepping up security as a result at further meetings.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We can confirm that an altercation took place on Wednesday night at Masefield Community Centre during a public consultation meeting to discuss potential gypsy and traveller sites in the town.

“The matter has been reported to the council’s chief solicitor and is being investigated.

“As a result of the incident we have stepped up security and we appeal for public calm at future meetings.”

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, who was at the meeting, said: “I have asked for a review of safety.

“Residents should be able to go to meetings in safety.”