Handforth Parish Council Zoom meeting dogged by interruptions as public joins in

18 February 2021, 08:59

Handforth Parish Council met for the first time since their December meeting went viral
Handforth Parish Council met for the first time since their December meeting went viral. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A council which became an internet sensation was dogged by rows and interruptions as thousands of members of the public tuned in.

Handforth Parish Council rose to stardom earlier this month after a chaotic Zoom call on December 10 went viral.

The council met for the first time in two months on Wednesday evening, although former star Jackie Weaver did not make an appearance due to the return of usual clerk Ashley Dawson.

WATCH: Handforth Parish Council Zoom meeting descends into chaos

READ MORE: Jackie Weaver: Sexism at heart of Handforth Parish Council row

The Zoom meeting was watched live by more than 3,000 people on YouTube, while many more joined the conference call directly.

It was frequently interrupted by laughter and cat-calls such as "read the standing orders, read them and understand them".

Some members of the public could be seen smoking and drinking alcohol on the call, with one shielding their face with a large safari hat.

At a number of points, one person played the Benny Hill Show theme tune.

At the end of the three-hour-long meeting, councillor John 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."

The constant interruption came as tensions from December’s fiery meeting continued, with Mr Smith clashing with chairman Brian Tolver.

Mr Smith described comments made by Mr Tolver towards Ms Weaver in the previous meeting as "abusive".

Ms Weaver twice kicked Mr Tolver out of December's meeting, which he accused her of running “illegally”.

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."

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

Ms Weaver said earlier on Wednesday that she hoped the new meeting would be "productive".

"I would have been perfectly happy to have been involved this evening but I don't think it's right for Handforth," she said.

"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."