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The Planning and Environment Committee in Handforth Parish Council in Cheshire was held over Zoom on December 10. Handforth is a town between Wilmslow, Heald Green and Styal with a population of just over 6,000. The meeting saw tempers flare over who chaired the meeting with Jackie Weaver, the clerk, accused of kicking members out of the call. The clip, from December, surfaced on Twitter yesterday, causing laughter among millions of viewers who compared it to a sitcom.
Councillor Brian Tolver, Chairman of Handforth Parish Council, had a heated exchange with Ms Weaver.
Ms Weaver’s presence upset Cllr Tolver, and after he was told it was possible to be removed from the call he vocalised his frustrations.
He said: “It’s only the chairman who can remove people from the meeting.
“You have no authority here Jackie Weaver. No authority at all.”
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Ms Weaver then removed Cllr Tolver to the anger of other Councillors on the meeting.
Cllr Aled Brewerton was outraged by the removal, and interjected when Ms Weaver tried to explain the meeting.
After the clerk said the councillors in attendance could elect a new chairman, he shouted: “No they can’t because the vice-chair’s here. I take charge.
“Read the standing orders. Read them and understand them!”
Other parts of the meeting involve a councillor taking a phone call with their friend in the middle of the meeting.
At the start of the 7pm session, one councillor accidentally unmuted appears to make an explicit remark.
Throughout the session members accuse each other of “appalling behaviour”, and one claims another is “sitting there like a laughing hyena”.
Ms Weaver said at one point: “The chairman simply declared himself ‘clerk’ and notified everybody of the case. There is no way of stopping him from calling himself clerk.
“Please refer to me as Britney Spears from now on”
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Handforth’s chaotic council meeting proved a smash hit on Twitter, with Johnny Mercer, Tory MP for Plymouth Moor View, lauding the clip as the “quite simply the best TV I’ve seen in lockdown”.
One user said: “Forget Buckingham Palace, the Lake District, or Magna Carta. If you want to truly understand England you need to delve into the world of local Parish Councils.”
Another added: “NGL though it is people like Jackie Weaver who keep local democracy going. Cutting through nutty politicians and keeping business on track.
“We don’t say thank you or recognise them enough!”
One more said: “‘You have no authority here Jackie Weaver’ is a greater line than any Shakespeare.”
The council’s website posted minutes of the disastrous video meeting, one of only five held a year in Handforth.
It alleged Cllr Tolver “proceeded to disrupt the proceedings” and was “removed from the meeting and put into the virtual waiting room”.
It said Cllrs Brewerton and Burkhill “were also removed to the waiting room”.
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