Just when you thought Parish Council Meetings were as dull as dirty dish water, the footage of the event in Handforth blew the nation away – and pretty much everyone has been talking about for the last 24 hours.
If you’re one of the few people who haven’t yet seen the recent Zoom call between councillors descended into chaos, here it is.
The meeting was foul-mouthed at times, and was punctuated by semi-hysterical laughter as the tone steadily deteriorated.
Handforth Parish Council and one of the meeting’s participants, Jackie Weaver, were both trending on Twitter as the clip was shared thousands of times – with some describing it as “British comedy gold”.
Even before the extraordinary meeting began, the odds were stacked against it running smoothly.
The regular planning and environment committee meeting had been held earlier and chairman Brian Tolver had challenged its legitimacy before being booted off the Zoom call.
The meeting began with someone trying to raise a point of order and another councillor mumbling “f*** off” under their breath.
Mr Tolver was being difficult again and, according to meeting minutes, he “proceeded to disrupt the proceedings”.
After asking for reassurance that “we won’t be thrown out of the meeting like we were last time”, he told clerk Jackie Weaver, from the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, to “stop talking” – adding that she had “no authority here”.
He said: “This meeting has not been called according to the law. It’s only the chairman who can remove people from the meeting. You have no authority here Jackie Weaver, no authority at all.”
Ms Weaver was having none of it and removed him from the Zoom call, putting him in the virtual waiting room.
But it wasn’t only Mr Tolver who was causing trouble.
Councillor Aled Brewerton, watching the events, said to his unidentified companion: “She’s kicked him out.”
He then yelled at Ms Weaver: “Read the standing orders – read them and understand them!”
After another councillor called for civility, her hopes were met with laughter.
Now, Jackie Weaver speaks out about the shocking meeting and the behavior of ‘bad Brian.’
Discussing the video on Radio 4 this morning (5 February), Ms Weaver admitted that meetings are never as exciting as this one was.
If you’re one of the few people out there who doesn’t have a clue what I’m talking about, let’s recap.
She said: “99.99 percent of council meetings are just not like that, they are often less exciting than we might hope they were.
“Although this has a positive spin for it – most of the time I’m trying to get people to get involved in parish councils. The plus side of this is it’s certainly done that.
“I have had nothing but really lovely positive support from people – who of course condemn the behaviour, no one could not condemn the behaviour.”
When asked about her new cult status and being hailed as a hero by many of those who have watched it, Ms Weaver said she was just happy she kept her composure – and didn’t really know who was in charge.
She said: “I’m afraid that when you are being bullied, if you can see that the other person has lost it, there’s a sense of ‘I did okay there and held it together’.
“Who was in charge? Of that meeting, I’m not actually sure who was in charge.”
Adding: “‘We’re passionate about the fact that local government is the mechanism that people can really engage with their local communities.”
The footage shows a heated meeting between members of the Planning and Environment Committee, which took place on 10 December 2020.
Chairman Brian Tolver had apparently refused to recognise the legitimacy of the meeting, having labelled himself as ‘clerk’.
Ms Weaver, from the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, then said: “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.”
Tolver hit back angrily: “You have no authority here Jackie Weaver!”
He was then removed from the meeting and placed in a virtual waiting room – the Zoom equivalent of the naughty step, surely.