Mon, 27 September 2021

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By Matt Zarb-Cousin
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Viral Handforth Parish Council Star Jackie Weaver Says There Is A Problem With “Bullying And Bad Behaviour” At Local Authorities

Viral Handforth Parish Council Star Jackie Weaver Says There Is A Problem With “Bullying And Bad Behaviour” At Local Authorities

Viral social media star Jackie Weaver said there is an “element of bullying and bad behaviour” at parish councils

3 min read

The woman at the centre of a viral parish meeting has hit out at the “element of bullying and bad behaviour” at local councils after becoming a social media star.

Jackie Weaver told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour she and others in local and national government were trying to tackle it, after her calm reaction to being shouted at on a virtual meeting that descended into chaos saw her trending on Twitter last night.

But she admitted she did not have the answer to the question everyone had been asking, which was who had the authority to take charge of the Hanforth Parish Council meeting.

“Who was in charge of that meeting? I'm not sure who was in charge!” said Weaver, who is not a councillor herself, but is from the Cheshire Association of Local Councils.

A clip of her from December kicking a councillor from a Zoom meeting into a digital waiting room was shared thousands of times yesterday, with praise for her reaction to the behaviour of the council’s chair Brian Tolver and vice-chair Aled Brewerton.

Weaver said two councillors had “legitimately called a meeting” and she was merely trying to help facilitate that in the absence of a clerk, saying this morning she said she had woken up to lots of “really lovely, positive support”.

And she responded to a message from a listener who praised her “no nonsense reaction to this bullying, petty, sexist behaviour, which is seen in councils up and down the country”.

“That's kind of reflective of the kind of thing that I've had so that's been that's been lovely,” she said.

“And I guess the harder-nosed kind of response to it is also around there is an element of bullying and bad behaviour in local councils, and a lot of us are working very hard, and that includes central government, to try to to do something about that.

“Because we're passionate about the fact that local government is the mechanism by which people can really engage with their communities.”

And asked how she remained so calm when Brewerton was yelling at her to “read the standing orders, read them and understand them”, she replied: “I guess for me it's about being focused on what you're trying to achieve.

“So there would have been a certain pleasure in fighting the argument, and ‘I'm legitimately here, this is my role, you're all wrong, these are the facts’.

“But I wasn't there to train them in how you hold the parish council meeting, I was very focused that I was there to support three councillors that wanted to get on with the ordinary business of a parish council, looking at doing stuff for their community and and just not getting dragged into it.”

This morning Tolver said he has no regrets over the incident, which was the second meeting in the same evening he was kicked out of.

He said: "I cannot think of any other council meeting anywhere, that was taken over by an unqualified member of the public like this.

"Removing half the councillors from the meeting, denied half of the voters of the village from being represented - it was an appalling attack on their democratic rights.

"This made tensions rise, and that is why voices were raised in the second meeting.

"In the second meeting, I was trying to explain the correct procedure to this lady and say that her actions were way out of order, but she seems to have believed that she could do whatever she chose."

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