Mayor faces no-confidence vote after chaotic Handforth Parish Council meeting

The motion against Barry Burkhill calls for his term of office as mayor to ‘cease immediately’.

Chaotic council meeting goes viral
Chaotic council meeting goes viral

A mayor who took part in a chaotic parish council meeting is facing a vote of no-confidence amid claims he brought the wider local authority into “disrepute”.

Millions of people watched clips of Handforth Parish Council’s Zoom meeting, which showed members losing their cool, trading insults and ultimately getting booted off the call.

Cheshire East Council mayor Barry Burkhill, who is an independent councillor for Handforth and attended the meeting, is now facing a vote of no-confidence on February 17.

Chaotic council meeting goes viral
Councillor Aled Brewerton (left) during a meeting of Handforth Parish Council (Handforth Parish Council/PA)

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”.

It said: “The recent national coverage of the Handforth Parish Council meeting and our mayor’s participation in that meeting has led us to believe he has brought this council and his role within this council into disrepute.”

Ms Wardlaw’s motion calls for Mr Burkhill’s term of office as mayor to “cease immediately”.

It added: “The work that has been done at Cheshire East over the last three years with the cooperation and commitment of all members and officers to transform its culture and reputation from one of bullying and intimidation has been undermined by this sad episode.

“The inaction of the mayor could be seen as a demonstration of his complicity in the bullying that occurred, and this cannot be ignored if the integrity of the brighter futures programme is to be maintained.”

Mr Burkhill denied he had brought the local authority into disrepute.

He said: “I was doing my best to uphold the rules and traditions of the law which govern our lives and the institutions which we rely upon to ensure good governance at all levels of society.

“If we lose the ability to run even our small parish councils according to standing orders and the law, then we lose that protection which they bring to our citizens and begin the slide towards dictatorship.”

Clips of the parish council’s planning and environment committee from December 10 emerged on social media on Thursday and quickly gained traction online.

Host Jackie Weaver became an overnight internet sensation for her calm handling of the situation, which saw chairman Brian Tolver kicked off the call twice, including in the council’s extraordinary meeting held later in the evening.

Following Mr Tolver’s eviction, vice-chairman Aled Brewerton, joined by an older unnamed gentleman, proceeded to yell at Ms Weaver to “read the standing orders”.

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

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