'Handforth Parish Council are not fit for purpose'

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Cheshire East Council has received a large number of complaints regarding the conduct and behaviour of Handforth Parish Council (HPC), though it is unknown at this stage whether they will be investigating the matter.

Additionally local residents have contacted wilmslow.co.uk to complain about the parish council's conduct, saying they are "not fit for purpose" and videos of their zoom meetings have gone viral after they descended into chaos with members trading insults and removing each other from the call.

Handforth resident Anika York told wilmslow.co.uk "A recent Handforth Parish Council meeting has been shared via YouTube. It is a shocking demonstration of incompetence, ignorance and ultimately unarguably a mismanagement of public funds.

"As a Handforth resident that cares about our community I'd like to ask you if there is any interest from either local or National journalists to publish a story, to help us start to hold a bunch of unprofessional, uncaring, narrow minded people to account."

A previous video of a Parish Council meeting on December 10th 2020 shows councillors arguing, shouting and at times swearing at one another including Jackie Weaver, who is acting as clerk and told "You have no authority here". She subsequently kicks councillors off the call, including Brian Tolver, Chairman of HPC.

David Brown, Director of Governance and Compliance at Cheshire East, wrote to members of the HPC on November 25th 2020.

In the letter Mr Brown states "I have received a multiplicity of complaints and referrals. These range from multiple complaints about councillors behaviour; to fundamental issues of governance and member/officer engagement. The most recent referrals relate to suggestions that some members of Handforth Parish Council have purported decisions that are plainly unlawful, and these decisions resulted in expenditure of public funds."

He continued "If the Code of Conduct matters raised are taken at face value they are sufficiently serious to warrant detailed consideration. The detailed consideration may result in a hearing before the Cheshire East Council Committee for Standards. The outcome of any such hearing may be public and may be used as evidence in related legal proceedings.The costs associated with the investigation of any misconduct are published and will become a matter for the Parish Council to defend.

"Until an assessment and investigation of any code of conduct issue is complete, I am unable to comment on any potential culpability of any individual or group of members."

I contacted Cheshire East regarding the complaints about HPC and asked a series of questions about the number of complaints received, which parish councillors they related to and what is the nature of the complaints.

I also asked whether Cheshire East Council has completed an investigation into any code of conduct issues and whether, as a result of these complaints, there be a hearing before the CEC Committee for Standards.

Cheshire East Council declined to provide any information or answer any of the questions submitted about the complaints.

Instead a Cheshire East Council spokesperson said "All matters relating to complaints to the monitoring officer about a parish council or elected member, remain confidential until all processes have been followed. The outcome of any formal investigation is published on the council's website."

I also contacted Handforth Parish Council, again they refused to answer any of the questions I submitted regarding the complaints.

Instead, Chairman of HPC Brian Tolver wrote the following unrelated response.

"I gather you have been asking for a comment about how things are at Handforth Parish Council.

"HPC's offices are inside the Youth Centre in Handforth, which is owned by Cheshire East Council. This office has been closed down since the first lock-down last Spring, which has meant we have all, including the clerk, been operating from home ever since – something of a limitation.

"The clerk was able to begin video-based meetings in September, but has been unavailable in the last couple of months.

"Nevertheless, much has continued as in previous times, albeit badly hit by lock-downs and social distancing. We were able to get the poppies on display and have a reduced parade for Remembrance Day; the children's pantomime unfortunately had to be scrapped, but the Christmas lights put on a great display (unfortunately without a switch-on event, and without the Carols in the Paddock this time). The handyman continues to do a great job keeping the place neat and tidy.

"The other activity we lost most of, was pushing forward the Greener Handforth agenda – most of this is a team event so again, COVID has put serious obstacles in the way.

"Let's all hope the vaccination programme will get us all back to normality by the Summer."

I have subsequently submitted a Freedom of Information request to Cheshire East council, which has been accepted and the response is due by 17th February 2021.

Updated 3pm

I have received confirmation today that an investigation into the conduct and behaviour of Handforth Parish Council is being carried out by Cheshire East Council's Committee for Standards. The investigation started in July 2020 and is expected to be completed in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

Apparently, three councillors, Brian Tolver, Aled Brewerton and Barry Burkhill tried to suspend the clerk Ashley Comiskey Dawson at an employment committee meeting held on November 4th last year. However, he was reinstated at a meeting in January as this was a decision which could only be made by the full Parish Council.

Jackie Weaver is the Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Council and she had been asked to step in and support Handforth Parish Council in light of the complaints and investigation into them.

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Handforth Parish Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Julie Nicol
Friday 5th February 2021 at 7:35 am
This has been trending on Twitter since Thursday evening with national celebrities commenting and has just been discussed on the BBC radio 4 Today programme! It’s made Handforth Parish Council famous or perhaps notorious?!
Nick Jones
Friday 5th February 2021 at 8:01 am
So Shambolic! Hang your heads in shame... Clear out !
Kerry Louise Burgess
Friday 5th February 2021 at 8:32 am
As a ex councillor of Handforth parish Council, I find this absolutely appalling behaviour.
Julie Green
Friday 5th February 2021 at 8:48 am
Shame! A public and unreserved apology is warranted from the councillors concerned for the abuse towards their clerk. Meanwhile perhaps the voters of Handforth will remember this in the next council elections... No place for this power trip.
Peter Moore
Friday 5th February 2021 at 9:14 am
I've been to every meeting since may 2019. HPC has a controlling group, fairly obvious which three. They have done nothing for the residents of Handforth, including during the pandemic. Prescriptions and shopping has been organised by ward councilor Julie Smith and the other three councilors. The controlling group block most motions they haven't raised them selves. They suspended the clerk essentially to retain power and it culminated in their behaviour at the meeting organised by the other three councilors with a 'guest clerk' Jackie Weaver. Please don't blanket criticise the whole council. Hopefully this publicity will finally see the end of the gang of three.
Peter Moore
Friday 5th February 2021 at 9:42 am
Just read Chairman Tolvers' comments. Clerk not available?, the gang of three suspended him illegally. Greener Handforth, laudable idea, purely his idea no resident or council involvement. He allocated 10K, done nothing since set up in July 2020. He blocked zoom meetings when they were first available. No Council regular 'housekeeping' since March. All his meetings have to do with the suspending of the clerk. What planet is he on.
Alan Murdoch
Friday 5th February 2021 at 10:28 am
You should why the usual parish clerk wasn’t present- apparently “ unavailable”
Henry Mott
Friday 5th February 2021 at 10:55 am
The Chair and his cronies involved in this shambles and the years of insanity should obviously resign. They have brought Handforth into distribute. However, I'm perplexed why all previous meetings, which are just as ridiculous haven't been highlighted by local press. There will be massive scrutiny now about all the other issues going on. Will Wilmslow.co.uk please ensure adequate coverage is given?
Andrew Backhouse
Friday 5th February 2021 at 11:13 am
Having seen that behaviour on screen, having heard about it over a long period (where the chair had been said to be a bully by previous councillors, who had left) I feel that it would be best if those councillors shown in an appalling light on screen should resign. However well intentioned they are, that behaviour is not acceptable and it brings Handforth and Parish councils as a whole in to disrepute. It makes me ashamed to be a Handforth resident.

It's a pity that the Chair does not talk of the excellent work done by some other councillors on making sure people who were isolating in Handforth got shopping and other help done for them during Lockdown, and helping the Foodbank. It seems that there is a degree of blindness to very important things being done by other council members.
Lee Brocklehurst
Friday 5th February 2021 at 1:10 pm
When you watch a circus, you expect the clowns to have put on their make-up.
Rather refreshing that they didn't this time.
Julie Green
Friday 5th February 2021 at 1:42 pm
Was the "unnamed gentleman" seen accompanying one of the councillors in the footage another councillor? Otherwise was he part of the same household or support bubble? (Handforth tier 3 or 4 on December10th I believe)
Marc Staples
Friday 5th February 2021 at 2:51 pm
Comedy Gold surely this is a spoof video . This should be shown on national TV on a Saturday night .I would happily watch this with a few beers and a pizza rather than the drivel that is currently on
What a obnoxious man Brain Tolver is a real chauvinist for all to see . I need to trawl youtube for the next instalment another Fawlty Towers in the making
Kerry Sullivan
Friday 5th February 2021 at 3:39 pm
Hi Julie Green. To answer your question, the gentleman sat with Aled Brewerton is his Father . They live in the same house so therefore have a legal bubble.

My question about this is how this will impact CEC? Barry Burkhill is the Mayor for Cheshire East! Surely they won’t want someone with such low morals and disrespect to others representing them? At the very least I would have thought the disgrace brought on himself would encourage him to resign from his post as Mayor, CEC Ward Councillor for Handforth and HPC Councillor?
Henry Mott
Friday 5th February 2021 at 4:02 pm
Kerry Sullivan, the decent thing would be some resignations. However, HPC is akin to something of the Trump presidency. Therefore, I'm sure this might rumble on. As I have said before, the only way to expose some of the issues within HPC is for broader transparency and local press to report on the shenanigans. Overall, Karma does exist, doesn't it.
Marc Staples
Friday 5th February 2021 at 5:08 pm
After watching this again on Granada reports i think the three men Brian Tolver, Aled Brewerton and Barry Burkhill should resign and hang their heads in shame . They are a laughing stock and need to go immediately. They must be cringing looking at the news tonight ;)
Nick Jones
Friday 5th February 2021 at 6:19 pm
How many existentialists does it take to run a parish council ?..

Strutting around in chains , tricorne and ermine robes will never be the same again ! .. Laughing stock !!.. It Strikes me the Cheshire East Mayor and his ill mannered cohorts have not only failed their electorate but failed their code of conduct on many levels;
https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/pdf/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-councillor-conduct/code-of-conduct-nov-2020-master.pdf

The ideal new mayoral candidate has been found in the calm, cool headed, respectful, and business like Jackie Weaver !

Who will fall on their sword First ?
Paul Rowlands
Friday 5th February 2021 at 11:10 pm
I cannot believe we've put up with these cretinous oafs for so long, and this footage has proved how useless they are. It's also made Handforth a laughing stock - shame on you. I would expect resignations immediately, if Brian Tolver, Aled Brewerton and Barry Burkhill have a shred of decency (which I doubt).
Audrey Youngman
Saturday 6th February 2021 at 12:19 pm
We moved up to Handforth with my husband's job in 1986. Barry Burkhill was in public life
then and did an excellent job. I wasn't at the meeting so can't comment. It would be my definition of hell to sit on a committee. I hope this ends soon as it will become boring.
Keith Chapman
Saturday 6th February 2021 at 1:20 pm
Jackie Weaver is a superstar! She has been doing the rounds of the newsrooms, and the next step must be a guest appearance on ‘Have I Got News for You’. ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ will surely follow. I understand she is set to meet Anton du Beke! Perhaps Graham Norton will have her on! Handforth Town Council can pay for all those pothole repairs by signing a contract for their meetings to be screened on Netflix. No need for script writers - just ad lib! The trio who starred in the trailer realise that every good soap needs a villain! Best Parish Council satire since the Vicar of Dibley!
Roger Probert
Saturday 6th February 2021 at 3:00 pm
Just for balance and I do not support the Chair but Mrs Weaver has confirmed that she did not know if the meeting as lawfully convened as the Chair asked. Should she not have found that out before she started? If some member of the public took over a meeting and started to make decisions would anyone find that acceptable? When the Chair asked her under what authority she was running the meeting she has confirmed that she had been invited to assist but would not say by whom. Only Parish Councillors can make decisions and she had no legal power to do so. There should have been a decision to appoint her temporarily as Chair for the meeting as per s. 112 Local Government Act. She did not ensure that that took place. She had no legal power to remove a democratically elected person from a meeting. That may only be done by the Council after a vote. Mrs Weaver may have been there to assist but she was acting out-with the law. Two wrongs and all that
Fiona Doorbar
Saturday 6th February 2021 at 4:30 pm
No one deserves to be spoken to in the manner Mrs Weaver was ! Certain attendees contravened the council’s Code of Conduct which is online for all to read.
Mark Russell
Saturday 6th February 2021 at 7:40 pm
Fiona, that code of conduct isn’t any use even as toilet paper. There are plenty of examples regarding the conduct of Cheshire east representatives acting outside the rules. One even broke the law last year, but he remains in a very cushy job. More chance of us having a heat wave next week than Cheshire east taking suitable action.
Keith Chapman
Saturday 6th February 2021 at 7:55 pm
I think you have to take this as a piece of much needed light relief during lockdown! If you start to analyse it too deeply you have to conclude that some of these individuals shouldn’t be trusted with their bus fare and dinner money, let alone the Handforth precept. I am sure the Handforth electors will have taken note and come the next election they will be shown the door. A pity for the other hardworking Handforth councillors whose unselfish work on behalf of their community has been overshadowed by this farce.
Roger Probert
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 9:30 am
Under the terms of the Public Meeting Act 1908 it is a criminal offence where "any person who, at a lawful public meeting, acts in a disorderly manner for the purpose of preventing the transaction of the business for which the meeting was called. "
If the Parish Council meeting, the subject of the video, was not lawfully called then the following does not apply. For that purpose the issue is whether there was a preliminary written request for the extraordinary meeting that complied with the rules and that, subsequently, a summons and public notice for the meeting were issues and which had been signed by two Councillors. If this did occur then the meeting was a lawful public meeting. I have seen a summons that was not signed so were all not signed - for example?
If it was lawfully called then it appears, from the information provided by Mrs Weaver, that she did, arguably, act in a disorderly manner to prevent the meeting from continuing. It is a fact that the meeting continued but did it?
The Chair of the Council, who I believe was also the Chair of the committee, was present and thus entitled to preside over the meeting by both Standing Orders and Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act 1972. He was denied that ability to do so by Mrs Weaver. Thus he was prevented from starting the meeting. Mrs Weaver had no legal status at the meeting other than as advisor, if asked for advice, but could not make any decisions as only Councillors can make decisions in Parish Council meetings. She had not been appointed as Clerk for the meeting by Council as far as I can see and there is certainly no resolution of Council to appoint her as such as per s. 112 of the Local Government Act 1972. She had no power to remove the Chair and vice chair and yet it seems that she did. To remove any person it has to be undertaken in accordance with the law which requires a proposal, seconded and a vote amongst Councillors., There was none. Those not on a Council cannot interfere in Council business. Only Councillors may remove a Chair from a meeting by following due process. Only the electorate can remove a Councillor altogether. Mrs Weaver should have been aware of these issues
Where the Chair was unlawfully removed the meeting could not continue by law. Thus once the Chair and vice chair had been removed the actual lawful meeting was at an end (if it ever started) it would seem. It is then arguable that what happened after that was that a meeting ensued but not a lawful Council meeting.
It may then be the case that Mrs Weaver may have committed an offence. She certainly improperly interfered in the democratic process. Despite her confirmation to the Chair that the meeting had been lawfully convened she has now confirmed, in writing, that she does not know if it was lawfully convened. One would have expected, that if those asking for this extraordinary meeting were the ones who asked her to assist then she would have ensured that the proper lawful process had been followed. Let us not forget though here that no one or two Councillors can make a decision to ask anyone to come along to assist - it has to be a Council decision. Look at that video in this light - if a member of the public tries to take over a meeting and to run it would we not expect the Chair to take action?
Richard Armstead
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 10:10 am
Methinks Handforth Parish Council were naive to allow an emigree from Cheshire East Council to control their meeting with her finger on the nuclear button.

If there was ever any doubt who is dictating current and future events in Handforth then wonder no more.

The use of Zoom technology to conduct Council meetings is both convenient and cost effective, and to be admired, but someone needs to evaluate it's effect on freedom of speech, if this example is anything to go by.

The whole episode has Orwellian overtones.
Claire Brown
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 2:10 pm
Surely it is not permitted to publish such a meeting by the council on social media? Shouldn't the member of staff who did this be held responsible for advertising an internal meeting? I think it is outrageous that it should get out into the public domain.
Marc Staples
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 3:10 pm
Claire Brown

Why is it outrageous to show what incompetent bullies the three men where to Jackie .
They are a total disgrace and should be shown for what they are, Had it not been shown no one would have believed it .
How can all these incompetent councillors be responsible for spending our money
Are you related or do you know one of the said persons as your the only person to jump to their defence ?
Wendy Breach
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 3:24 pm
Peter Moore says that the (now notorious) three on HPC are "a controlling group". How can 3 out of 7 be a "controlling group" - are they allied to a political party, and hold sway because the other 4 councillors are from 2 other political parties? Could the remaining 4 not form a coalition and take more control that way? Or is party politics anathema to ethical local government - and would the Wilmslow media be interested in promoting Flatpack Democracy as an alternative to the old, corrosive party politics?
Robert Foulds
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 4:52 pm
As regards Parish Council meetings being broadcast, yes they can be broadcast and the associated legislation came into being a couple of years ago. I don't think it is compulsory to record them though. But these zoom meetings can be difficult to get used to initially. And as regards PC meetings being recorded, why not?, the minutes are placed on their websites and frankly the behaviour of certain individuals is generally tempered by the presence of cameras. I am involved with my local PC and it has been recording meetings for several years now.

In my opinion the behaviour displayed by the 'men' on that video was unforgiveable, in fact it was disgraceful, but unfortunately typical of people who have power taken away from them.- they really don't like it and resort to what we all can see. Just think what these men are like off the camera!!

In my view and in my experience, it appeared to me that there was a need and a desire for a constructive meeting, which was about serving the residents of the parish and yet the only means available to those desiring the meeting, was to ask CALC to intervene and that is a sad day for democracy.

As regards the meeting being legal, perhaps not technically, or perhaps so, see Roger Probert's entry above. But if a meeting did transpire and there was a conclusion to it that benefitted the community, then so much the better.
Janet Taylor
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 5:13 pm
As the original publisher of this video on You Tube, I feel I should answer some of these points. These videos of meetings are a matter of public record and as such are available to the public, I have published a number of them in the last 5 years and have all monthly full council meetings available on request.

There is a controlling group as the Chairman has a casting vote, therefore Cllrs Tolver, Burkhill and Brewerton can currently control all scheduled meetings of the full council. Ex Cllr Jean Thompson disqualified herself from the council having missed 6 months meetings as current legislation, the 3 controlling Councillors could have given her dispensation during this time but this was never done. The election in May to replace Jean Thompson puts them at risk of losing control and their casting vote, sadly it seems they will stop at nothing to prevent this happening, even though it is now out of their hands.

The December meeting was an extraordinary meeting called by 2 councillors as the Chair refused to call one, this was done lawfully and the Cheshire Association of Local Councils was asked to provide a clerk for the meeting due to the suspension of the HPC Clerk in November, enter Jackie Weaver.

If you look at the video of the Planning Meeting of the same date which is available on Twitter, the Chairman attempts to declare the meeting unlawful and cancel it, given that he, Burkhill and Brewerton have the casting vote, I see no alternative to the action Jackie Weaver took to remove them, had they won a vote, it effectively closes the council down until after the election in May.

I hope this makes things clearer for those with questions but this situation has to change, I had nothing to do with any editing or posting of videos on Twitter but I can't say I am sorry it happened if only because it has made residents of Handforth aware of what has been going on for months.
Roger Probert
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 7:24 pm
Sorry Janet but it doesn't make it that clear. Please see my post above which sets out the legals. A person who is not a Councillor cannot, in law, make decisions for a parish Council as Mrs Weaver did. The Chair merely asked if the meeting had been lawfully convened. Mrs Weaver said that it had been and yet she has since confirmed to me, in writing, that she did not know if it had been so convened. The documentary evidence presented to me indicates that the calling of the meeting did not seem to actually meet the requirements of the Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12. Mrs Weaver had no legal power to remove a Councillor from the meeting. By law there has to be a proposal to do from a Councillor, seconded by a Councillor, and then voted on by Councillors. Mrs Weaver did not comply with the law. She may have committed an offence - see my post above
Pete Taylor
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 8:44 pm
I feel compelled to point out, not for the first time, that the Janet Taylor commenting here, is not the Janet Taylor I am married to.
Janet Taylor
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 8:47 pm
Roger, the information showing the meeting was lawfully called is available on the HPC website, all the required elements are in the document.

Jackie Weaver was not there to make decisions on behalf of the Council but to ensure the meeting went ahead, which she did in a calm and professional way. Although the Standing Orders do say only the Chairman can remove people from meetings, they do not specify what to do in circumstances where it is the Chair, followed by the Vice Chair who are trying to disrupt them meeting, as I said earlier, by declaring perfectly legal meetings illegal, they have enough votes to close the meeting down again and again, effectively crippling the council.

If you are not aware of previous events and are basis your summation purely on the 18 minutes of video shown on Twitter, I can understand you coming to the conclusion you have but the fact that the statement from CEC says they've been investigating since July should tell you that there is much more to this than 18 minutes of argument attempting to disrupt and ultimately cancel a meeting. Essentially we have 2 parish councils meeting at the moment, that isn't lawful either.
Janet Taylor
Sunday 7th February 2021 at 9:28 pm
Pete Taylor as I think I have said before, you can't have everything
Peter Moore
Monday 8th February 2021 at 12:42 pm
The clerk was suspended by Tolver, Burkhill and Brewerton it is suggested by those that know, illegally at an Employment Committee meeting. He was brought back at a Full council meeting not attended by the above. The recent meeting clerked by Jackie Weaver (chief officer of Chalk) was called legally by two councilors, not the above mentioned. Tolver, Burkhill and Brewerton were quite rightly invited. There clear intent was to disrupt and prevent the meeting taking place, claiming it to be illegal. Jackie Weaver ejected, quite rightly and legally before the meeting actually started. How anybody could morally argue that she was wrong is beyond me. I think the majority of people appear to hold the same view as me. I've seen their behavior since May 2019. The sooner the three resign the better.
Peter Moore
Monday 8th February 2021 at 4:40 pm
To Wendy Breach. sorry I wasn't very clear. If we go back to the May 2019 elections Brian Tolver made it very clear in his 'manifesto' that he and Mayor Burkhill would, with their 'friends' on the West Ward make up the majority group (controlling group). The four were Tolver, Burkhill, Brewerton and Thompson. Actually they anticipated having Michael Thompson as well but he wasn't elected. I have to confess that Councillor Sue Moore is my wife, hence being to all meetings and sadly prompted to do lots of reading, questioning and research. It became clear very early on that the four were voting 'on block' against any motions from any of the other three. As an example, motion to allow the Ward councilors, Julie Smith and Barry Burkhill (Parish Councilor, Ward Councilor and Mayor) to give some input/report at the Council meetings. Voted down, twice, by the controlling group, which remember includes Ward Councilor Burkhill. Julie Smith is a very active Ward Councilor and attends all Parish Council meetings. Barry Burkhill is our Mayor. Councillor Thompson self-disqualified in May 2020 in accordance with the Local Government 1972 Act section 85(1). She failed to attend any meetings for a six month period without receiving dispensation from a full council meeting. All she had to do was to contact the council with a legitimate reason for absence, before disqualification and she could have been given dispensation. We now have three versus three. The Chairman Councilor Tolver has consistently used his casting vote to maintain control. The bigger story of course is them suspending the Clerk in a desperate attempt to retain power, he is blamed for sacking her. He didn't and legally couldn't. Hence the ongoing investigation by Cheshire East.
Stuart Redgard
Monday 8th February 2021 at 7:24 pm
To Richard Armstead.

Jackie Weaver is NOT from Cheshire East Council.

She is the Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils (Chalc).
Peter Moore
Monday 8th February 2021 at 8:12 pm
Jackie Weaver has suggested she has no knowledge of communicating with Roger Probert.
The only other person defending Chairman Tolver with such vigour is, Chairman Tolver. I think defending the indefensible. Remember he was trying to sabotage a legally held meeting that was merely trying to carry out mundane Council duties. Something he hasn't done since March 2020.
Robert Foulds
Tuesday 9th February 2021 at 12:37 am
Deciding the legality of the meeting where JW ejected the Chair et al is an example of the problems that face parish councils, in that they cannot possibly afford to take legal advice whenever there is a doubt about any action they undertake.
Furthermore, in my experience of taking legal advice, firstly it is very costly, secondly it is always questionable due to the fact that another lawyer may well give a different interpretation of the same legislation. So accepted that differing opinions and interpretations are quite possible, a PC could find that not only did it spend its residents funds on legal advice, it may well have bought the very expensive advice that turns out to be wrong.

So returning to the meeting, whether or not it was legal is really not that important at parish council level, what is important is that a meeting of residents representatives did take place for the benefit of those whose money was being expended i.e. the residents of Handforth.
Polly Keen
Tuesday 9th February 2021 at 5:31 pm
I don’t know what is going on at Handforth Parish Council but one thing stands out very clearly and that is that we are being fed only one side of the story.
We are led to believe that the group led by Brian Tolver are the baddies and that the other three councillors are the goodies. I don’t believe this for one minute and those who think it is ever so funny should think of the destruction taking place to the councillors involved.
One has to question the impartiality of Jackie Weaver in this situation. She had the ultimate weapon at her fingertip and was ready to use it. In doing that she was taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown – something she could not have done if the council meeting was in a normal building. To silence three councillors going about their legitimate business is disgraceful if not illegal, and judging by the pictures of her during and afterwards, she was enjoying every minute and lapping up her new-found power and notoriety. Had she taken her lessons from Donald Trump. Are we to be ruled by Zoom weaponry for the foreseeable future or can we get back to normal respect, politeness, and discussion.
Social Media has an awful lot to answer for and contrary to popular belief, on this occasion is aiming to destroy democracy. We are not talking about teenagers committing suicide but of our elected voluntary politicians being publicly vilified without a fair balanced hearing. What we need to know is the history behind this situation? One hears that there has been a poisonous and acrimonious atmosphere in this council for many years.
Guy Beardsley
Tuesday 9th February 2021 at 8:26 pm
Here is a thought.

Why don’t public servants meet, discuss the important topics, decide on a course of action and deliver on their decision. Ultimately making the area a better place to live and work, benefiting the residents who they represent.

It’s not rocket science and it’s what millions of people do in the private sector every day. Discuss, decide, execute. Without all the small minded, petty, utter nonsense that the video shows.
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 9th February 2021 at 8:54 pm
Thank you Guy. You encapsulate my thoughts exactly. I know nothing of local government rules but I know how a meeting should be run. And it's nothing like that.
Robert Foulds
Wednesday 10th February 2021 at 12:11 am
Believe me, civil parish council meetings do take place and I attended one only this evening. It was friendly, well manged by the Chair and cordial, no factions have been in operation for at least 12 years and much constructive work has been achieved.
However, we recently admitted another co-opted councillor into the PC and he has turned into a monster, bullying staff, scaremongering about legality of parish practices (he's ex police), issuing interminable emails and demanding all manner of actions be undertaken in accordance with his instruction and issuing FOIs - utterly bizarre! Indeed, his behaviour and associated emails could reasonably be described as vexatious, and he has managed to alienate himself totally from every other member of the PC.
Nevertheless, the point I am making is that it only takes one nutcase to ruin a well run PC and then it starts to drain the coffers and resources of an organisation that never has much in the way of funds and thereby threaten the good work that has been built up over such a long period of time.
Factions never achieve anything because the participants are too busy looking after themselves and their own petty power bases.
Nick Jones
Thursday 11th February 2021 at 6:26 pm
"If the right people don’t have power, do you know what happens? ... The wrong people get it: politicians, councillors, ordinary voters ! ".
Sir Humphrey Appleby GCB KBE MVO

Belligerence and manners should never be confused. I note as this omni-shambles continues no one has yet fallen on their sword so the humiliation will continue .
Alan Brough
Thursday 11th February 2021 at 9:18 pm
@ Nick Jones

Tick - tock... it’s the way of revolution.

Either you’re with the madness or you’re agin it!

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