Zoom call chaos at Handforth Parish Council

‘Jackie Weaver wouldn’t put up with this!’ New Zoom call chaos at Handforth Parish Council as barking dogs, Japanese music and bickering see their latest meeting descend into farce

  • Handforth Parish Council meeting saw clashes and members of public removed
  • Chairman Brian Tolver said that Jackie Weaver ‘had no right to exclude him’ 
  • Japanese music played out and dogs barked as the councillors bickered  
  • Jackie Weaver became a star after Handforth Parish Council’s meeting went viral

A council parish meeting which became infamous after it turned into a chaotic trail of disorder, power grabs and insults on Zoom again descended into farce tonight.

Councillors of Handforth Parish Council clashed in a tetchy meeting and members of the public were removed as they heckled them as the council met for the first time since the fiery episode on December 10.  

It came after meeting co-ordinator Jackie Weaver, 62, turned into an overnight sensation and earned plaudits this month for the way she handled her fellow parishioners in the explosive planning meeting in the sleepy Cheshire town. 

During tonight’s meeting, which was attended by around 80 people, Chairman Brian Tolver, who was evicted out of the last meeting along with vice-chairman Aled Brewerton, said Ms Weaver ‘had no right to exclude him’.

Councillors of Handforth Parish Council clashed in a tetchy meeting and members of the public were removed as they heckled them tonight

During tonight’s meeting Chairman Brian Tolver said Jackie Weaver ‘had no right to exclude him’

He told councillors: ‘The first meeting on December 10 was the planning committee and I was reading from a prepared statement that I had written down. I got two and a half sentences into that and I was muted by Jackie Weaver.

‘I didn’t realise I was muted so I carried on speaking. I continued speaking although of course I’d been silenced for a portion of what I was saying. She argued with me about something.’    

However Cllr Cynthia Samson, 74, argued: ‘No she didn’t argue with you councillor Tolver! She told you that the meeting was legal and you disputed it!’

Mr Tolver continued: ‘I was reading the statement and there was some dialogue with Ms Weaver who incidentally was speaking out of turn because nobody is allowed to speak under those circumstances as you know.

‘I don’t know why but she pressed the mute button she has said as much in interviews on television.

‘I presume she didn’t like what I was saying and she had no right to exclude me however much she disliked my point. Once the meeting has started it’s for councillors to decide and through the chair who is to speak at any one point in time.

‘Councillors and members of the public should only speak via the chair. It’s not a power trip, it’s just a democratic system that runs in an orderly fashion otherwise you have disorder and chaos as we’ve seen this evening.’

During their infamous meeting in December, Mr Tolver accused rival councillors of calling it illegally and yelled: ‘You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver! NO AUTHORITY AT ALL!’.

Vice-chairman Aled Brewerton, 36, also proceeded to yell at Ms Weaver to ‘read the standing orders’.

This time there was no Ms Weaver, whose place was taken by the regular clerk, but there were rows and claims of ‘unlawful’ acts at the 7pm meeting.

Mr Tolver argued with councillor Cynthia Samson over planning applications and whether the minutes should be deferred due to admin errors in the hour-long debate.

Meanwhile councillor Samson asked for items to be struck off as the planning applications was ‘full of errors for which clerk has apologised profusely’.

The meeting was the first time the parish council have had a meeting since their fiery episode on December 10

Japanese music played out and dogs barked as the councillors arued over voting on the agenda

Mr Tolver told her: ‘You keep talking while I am trying to talk. When you ask a question I am trying to give a response.

‘But you don’t allow me, and I don’t think that is very respectful, do you’.

To which she sarcastically replied: ‘Really’.

He also claimed it was ‘unlawful’ to carry on with applications which were not properly advertised. 

Councillor Samson shot back: ‘What law are we breaking. It is not illegal.’ 

One man, called George, kept mentioning ‘standing orders’ prompting Mr Tolver to tell him: ‘You will be banned to Peru if you are not careful.’

While another quipped: ‘You are losing control Brian – Jackie Weaver wouldn’t put up with this!’ 

Japanese music also played out and dogs barked as the councillors bickered over voting on the agenda.

As the chaos continued, the exasperated chairman logged himself off and councillor Susan Moore said: ‘The chairman has disappeared.’

Jackie Weaver became an overnight sensation for her cool handling over the council meeting 

During the infamous meeting in December Chairman Brian Tolver (pictured) said: ‘You have no authority her Jackie Weaver!’

When the chairman returned he said: ‘It is very unfortunate – I would ask members of the public not to treat this as comedy.

‘Members of the public are not allowed to speak during the open forum.’

The scenes come after Jackie Weaver was hailed for her calm handling of the fiery meeting in December- which saw chairman Brian Tolver kicked off the call twice.

When fellow councillor Susan Moore called for civility, the meeting erupted into semi-hysterical laughter and two further councillors, Mr Brewerton and Barry Burkhill were removed. 

Describing her anxiety during the row, Ms Weaver told ITV News: ‘I’m glad I was sitting not standing, my knees were shaking. No, I didn’t feel as confident as I looked but I was just determined that they were going to be able to hold that meeting’.

Ms Weaver, who lives in Whitchurch, Shropshire, has received messages of support from around the world amid claims the hectoring she received amounted to sexist bullying. 

Prior to the meeting tonight, Ms Weaver said she would not be attending as the council’s usual clerk had returned. 

Aled Brewerton (left) also shouted at Ms Weaver and told her to ‘read the standing orders’

The meeting on December 10 was attended by several other councillors (clockwise from top left: Susan Moore, Barry Burkill who is also thrown out, John Smith who takes over as chairman, and Cynthia Samson)

She said: ‘I would have been perfectly happy to have been involved this evening but I don’t think it’s right for Handforth.

‘Now the clerk is back it’s absolutely right and proper they’ve taken their proper place, which they’re perfectly competent to do.

‘I’m really hopeful that the council will have the kind of productive meeting that we would hope for at a local council.

‘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.’

Earlier on Wednesday, Cheshire East Council mayor Barry Burkhill, an independent councillor for Handforth, faced a vote of no-confidence over his role in the viral meeting, which has been referred to Cheshire East Council’s Standards Committee.

The motion, proposed by Cheshire East Conservative councillor Liz Wardlaw, claims Mr Burkhill ‘made no attempt to intervene as it became clear participants in that meeting were being bullied’.

Asked for her thoughts on the no-confidence vote, Ms Weaver said: ‘I can’t help but have some empathy for somebody in that situation because it must be so difficult to experience the censure of so many of your colleagues.

‘However, Cheshire East policy, its whole ethos over the last five years, has been anti-bullying… and here we have councillor Burkhill sitting and watching it play out in front of him and not lifting a finger.

‘At the end of the day, what’s sadly missing from all of this is respect.

Cheshire East Council mayor Barry Burkhill is facing a vote of no-confidence

‘When I turned up to support a meeting of Handforth Parish Council it was done at the request of the people holding the meeting – I had every authority to be there and was offered no respect.’ 

This month MailOnline revealed that the row was just the tip of the iceberg, with an insider calling the parish council a ‘den of bullying’ where two rival factions have been warring for months over who should be leader.

Clips of the parish council’s planning and environment committee from December 10 emerged earlier this month and became an internet sensation.

During the seven-minute edited highlights package of the meeting, someone is heard exclaiming: ‘f*** off’ at the start, a toilet flushes and another person answers the front door as councillors from two rival factions struggled with the mute button. 

One councillor, Jean Thompson, was dismissed as she did not attend meetings for six months. 

So now the council is split with three councillors on each side: Brian Tolver, Aled Brewerton and Barry Burkhill versus John Smith, Cynthia Samson and Susan Moore.

It appears that the battle between the two camps is not over a controversial planning application or footpaths, but a bureaucratic dispute over who runs the council.

One faction claims Brian Tolver is a ‘disgraceful’ chairman who has too much power and is stopping the council making any decisions. 

Cllr’s Tolver’s supporters believe a coup is underway and refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the December 10 meeting that exploded online.

Peter Moore, 70, one of those on the original zoom call, described the parish council as a ‘den of bullying’ which has been warring for months, prompting the laptop fisticuffs. 

‘It has become chaotic,’ he told MailOnline. ‘Nothing is getting done. It has been like this for a while. This meeting was brought forward to try and get things moving.

‘They came to the meeting to disrupt it – the aggressive and bullying ones. They have turned it into a den of bullying.’

Handforth lies near Manchester Airport and is on the commuter belt into Manchester.

It traditionally housed inner-city Manchester residents in overspill estates but has moved steadily upmarket.

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