'Parish Council meetings are never normally that exciting!' Jackie Weaver responds to viral Handforth Zoom clip

Ellen Manning
·3 min read
Jackie Weaver said council meetings are rarely as exciting as the one including her which has gone viral online. (Twitter)
Jackie Weaver said council meetings are rarely as exciting as the one including her which has gone viral online. (PA)

A parish council meeting attendee who found herself at the centre of a viral video when she was shouted at by local councillors has said the vast majority of meetings are “just not like that”.

Jackie Weaver was attending a virtual meeting of Handforth Parish Council when it descended into chaos, with some parish councillors shouting at her and prompting her to eject them from the call.

Clips of the angry scenes were shared online and became an internet sensation, being viewed more than two million times by Friday morning.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Weaver — who is chief executive of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils and was at the meeting to support two parish councillors — said: “Actually 99.99% of council meetings are just not like that.

“They are often less exciting that we might hope they were and in fact...most of the time I’m trying to get people involved in parish councils to raise their profile. I guess the plus side of this is it’s certainly done that.”

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During the meeting, the council’s chair Brian Tolver told Weaver to “stop talking”, adding: “You have no authority here.”

In response, she removed him from the Zoom call and placed him in a virtual waiting room, prompting vice-chair Aled Brewerton, joined by another man, to shout at her to “read the standing orders”.

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When fellow councillor Susan Moore tried to calm things down, the meeting erupted into laughter and two further councillors were removed.

Weaver told Woman’s Hour that she had been inundated with support from people, but the issue did highlight the issue of “bullying and bad behaviour” across local government.

Watch: ‘Chaotic’ town council meeting becomes unlikely internet sensation

She said: “I have had nothing but really lovely positive support from people who of course condemn the behaviour - nobody could not condemn that behaviour.

“I guess the harder nosed response to it is also around there’s an element of bullying and bad behaviour in local councils and a lot of us are working very hard to try to do something about that because we are passionate about the fact that local government is the mechanism by which people can really engage with their communities.”

Meanwhile, Tolver has said he did not regret how he acted in the meeting.

Speaking to the PA news agency the chairman — who had previously been evicted from an earlier meeting — said Weaver was just present as a member of the public and “had no status to speak other than when invited”.

“If you look at the first meeting you will see I have reason to be angry,” he said.

He added: “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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