‘Do you have the authority?’: Latest Handforth Parish Council meeting plagued by arguments and interruptions

Almost 3,000 people tuned in to watch meeting after previous call went viral

Kate Ng
Thursday 18 February 2021 01:16
Handforth Parish Council meeting trolled during resident Q&A

A parish council that became an internet sensation over a fiery Zoom argument has been dogged by more rows at its latest meeting.

Thousands watched live on Wednesday as councillors from Handforth Parish Council clashed again, between repeated interruptions from members of the public.

A clip of a meeting of the council on 10 December was seen by millions, rocketing its participants to stardom as they exchanged insults, shouted, and eventually got booted off the call by Jackie Weaver, who was not present for the latest instalment.

Wednesday’s meeting was watched live by more than 3,000 people via YouTube, with some interjecting to yell catchphrases from the viral clip, including “do you have the authority?” and “read the standing orders, read them and understand them”.

Tensions from the previous meeting spilled over into the latest edition, with councillor John Smith clashing with chairman Brian Tolver over the events of December.

Mr Tolver had accused Ms Weaver of running the meeting illegally, and was kicked out of the council meeting twice. Mr Smith offered a lengthy defence of Ms Weaver and described Mr Tolver and others’ comments towards her as “abusive”.

In response, Mr Tolver said: “I have much to dispute in what councillor Smith just said… I don’t want to bore everybody but he was wrong on just about every point he raised.”

When a member of the public asked if Mr Tolver would like to apologise for his actions in the previous call, Mr Tolver asked for the person to be muted.

Councillors also argued about the previous meeting’s minutes, as Mr Tolver tried to defer their approval to a future meeting. But others on the call told him a vote was needed to decide this.

He briefly left the meeting after the argument and when a vote on minutes was being carried out.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted for three hours, Mr Smith commented: “Hopefully next time we’ll be a bit more slick about it and the events of the last couple of weeks will have faded into the distance.

“So only those who are really interested in the parish council are here, rather than those who just want to act the fool.”

Ms Weaver told the PA news agency on Wednesday she would have been “happy” to have been involved in the latest meeting, but she didn’t “think it’s right for Handforth”.

“I hope it will be the turning of a new leaf, but I fear the only thing that will resolve the tensions in Handforth is when they ultimately have an election in May, when the seat that is currently vacant is up for election,” she said.

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