Did Jackie Weaver have the authority? – the law and policy of that Handforth Parish Council meeting

5th February 2021

Handforth Parish Council is not a happy parish council.

This is an extract from a formal Letter from the Director of Governance and Compliance at Cheshire District Council (text posted here):

And the unhappiest committee of all the committees of Handforth Parish Council is the Planning and Environment Committee.

An indication of this unhappiness can be seen in the minutes of its meeting of October 2020:

And then in November 2020:

Notice the mention of ChALC – this is to the Cheshire Association of Local Councils of which more in a moment.

So from the official record, something odd is going on.

And so we come to the ‘extraordinary’ meeting of that committee in December 2020, the agenda for which is here.

There is no mention on the agenda of who will do the clerking.

You will see that the chair of the wider parish council was expressly invited.

So were we.

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Then this extraordinary ‘extraordinary’ committee meeting took place.

The formal minute of the first part of the meeting is as follows:

[ADD – a minute of a further related meeting that evening is here.]

*

As is now widely known, the minutes quoted above do not quite give justice to the remarkable scenes of that committee meeting.

This is compelling viewing, especially the first six minutes – and there is no surprise that it has gone viral.

So let us take what is said in this video in order.

The chair of the wider parish council (whose Zoom account describes him as a “Handforth PC Clerk”) refers to a meeting he was thrown out of ‘last time’ – it is not yet clear if this means the November meeting minuted above.

The chair then presses Jackie Weaver as to the latter’s standing, as a proper officer.

Weaver does not expressly claim to be a proper officer, but that she is clerking.

Who is Jackie Weaver?

Weaver is not a councillor nor is she mentioned in the agenda.

Weaver is no other than the Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, the organisation which the committee has already had to refer the question of the legality of its meetings.

It appears she has been parachuted in as some sort of a municipal special agent.

The Winston Wolf of Cheshire local government.

The formal letter of the compliance officer and the previous minutes of the committee indicate why this invitation would have happened.

The minutes of this meeting describe her position as follows:

This indicates that she was not regarded for the purposes of the meeting as the ‘Proper Officer’.

And indeed, as we will see, the status of Jackie Weaver as ‘Proper Officer’ is a red herring.

*

Now we come to the ‘Standing Orders’.

Oh, the Standing Orders.

Standing Orders of any local authority are made under section 42 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Under the Standing Orders of this council, there can be ‘extraordinary’ committee meetings (standing order 17C):

And if the chair refuses to do so, then an extraordinary committee meeting can be called by two councillors (standing order 17D):

And this is what was done with this meeting.

So it would appear that the chair of the parish council may have erred in saying the meeting had not been called ‘in accordance with the law’.

Disorderly conduct is turn dealt with at standing order 10:

The chair of the parish council is thereby correct that only the chair can exclude people from the meeting.

The question is who is the chair of the meeting at the point the chair of the parish council is excluded?

(And then there is the more philosophical question of who can exclude a disruptive chair if the chair is disruptive.)

*

We then have the immortal exchange:

‘You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver, no authority at all!’

[Silence]

‘She’s just kicked him out.’

[…]

‘Read the standing orders, read them and understand them!’

*

At this point, on the face of the Standing Orders, it would appear that there had been an exclusions for disruptive behaviour, and that the exclusions – by technology if not by the power of the Standing Orders – had been effected by Weaver.

You will note that she also mentions reporting this to the compliance officer (the author of the formal letter of concern at the head of the post).

Weaver then takes the meeting to the election of a new chair, and another councillor is elected chair.

It then seems a message is sent to the excluded councillors that they could return if they behave, but they do not return.

*

A common sense solution many may think, if not one (strictly) in accordance with the Standing Orders.

Presumably the exclusions can be taken to then be ratified by the new chair, though this is not expressly said or minuted (and given the sequence of events, such a subsequent ratification may have been appropriate).

And the excluded chair and the disruptive councillors can hardly complain about their exclusions on the basis of non-compliance with the Standing Orders if, as they maintained, the committee meeting was illegitimate to begin with.

For on their own version of events, there was no valid committee meeting even taking place.

*

This viral incident is an insight into the reality of one local government meeting.

On balance, it would appear the disruptive councillors were wrong to say the extraordinary meeting was invalid.

And, on balance, the exact manner of their exclusions was not in accordance with the Standing Orders – though, in the circumstances, the disruptive councillors can hardly complain.

You would not get any of what really happened from the official minutes.

This is a useful reminder to all – including historians and legal commentators – that formal documents often do not give the full story.

As such this video is a boon for public transparency of council meeting.

This is why all council meetings should be streamed and available on video.

 

*

And in conclusion, on the face of the Standing Orders, Jackie Weaver did not seem to have the authority to call the extraordinary committee meeting – but she did not need to do so.

Weaver did not have authority as ‘Proper Officer’ – but she did not claim that she had such authority and she did need not any such powers for clerking.

Weaver did not appear to have the formal power to exclude the disruptive councillors – but, given that this exclusion was then accepted by the new chair, and that the disruption was plain, that does not seem to practically matter.

And these conclusions can be offered on the basis of reading the Standing Orders – reading and understanding them.

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144 thoughts on “Did Jackie Weaver have the authority? – the law and policy of that Handforth Parish Council meeting”

  1. I think it may be that the Planning and Environment committee actually includes all members of the parish council. The terms of reference say a minimum of three members drawn from the wider parish council, but no maximum, and all current parish councillors are shown to be members. (This isn’t unusual in smaller parish councils)

  2. What an entertaining post!

    “Weaver did not have authority as ‘Proper Officer’ – but she did not claim that she had such authority and she did need not any such powers for clerking.”

    At 1:46, Jackie Weaver is heard to say, “There’s no difference between clerk and Proper Officer”. At face value, that would seem to suggest that she did, in fact, believe she had the authority of a Proper Officer.

          1. There are statutes that require that a notice or document be sent out or kept by the proper officer – LGA 1972 in the schedules makes provision for the summons to be signed by the proper officer. Arnold Baker at 9.23 or thereabouts suggests that model SOs should include an SO giving the Clerk the status of proper officer for the purpose of any statutes.

      1. Out of interest,
        Once the minutes have been published and agreed,
        do they take president over any audio or video recording in case of differences ?

    1. Proper Officer is a statutory term for (usually the clerk) an employee acting in that capacity. As a local government officer asked to facilitate and clerk the meeting in the absence of the usual clerk it is arguable that Ms Weaver was in effect the “proper officer”. The term is meaningless in terms of powers but section 15 of the NALC model standing orders gives an idea of their function and Ms Weaver was correct in her statement that Proper Officer and Clerk are in effect the same thing. https://www.chalc.org.uk/doc/D337216.docx

      I’d argue (am CiLCA qualified) that by the letter of the law Section 2.b should have been enacted but with a split council the chair’s casting vote would been used to excuse his and the vice chair’s behaviour. So Zoom allowed for a “creative” interpretation of the law. However Ms Weaver has done everything else correctly according to the Standing Orders. And clearly there’s a lot of “previous” at this parish.

      It truly is fascinating – the sad outcome is it might put “normal” people off going into local politics when to be honest they’d be really useful there.

  3. Without knowing any of the background, this comment may be way off base, but it looked to me like a bunch of blokes not wanting to be told what to do by a woman. They lost their heads while she stayed remarkably calm.

      1. I don’t agree. I don’t think the situation would have been any different with a male Clerk (or rather, Acting Clerk).

    1. She is a proffessional and she had time to prepare and steady herself.

      They considered her behaviour to be a coup which then explains theirs.

      One point of disagreement with this

      “Weaver did not appear to have the formal power to exclude the disruptive councillors – but, given that this exclusion was then accepted by the new chair, and that the disruption was plain, that does not seem to practically matter.”

      I think this is rationalising our dislike of the chair. The fact is Weaver upsurped the chairs authority. The fact he thinks the meeting isn’t legal is irrelavent. If they claim it is legal they are then obliged to let him chair.

      I haven’t access to the full video so could someone tell me if he was informed that if he does not chair the meeting another chair will be selected and by what means. When the angry man states that he is vice chair and should then become chair is he wrong?

      The fact Weaver comes accross as likeable and the fact that Tolver is wrong about the legitimacy of the meeting seems irrelavent.

      Their behaviour is poor but it seems reasonable to assume that most would behaviour belligerently in such a circumstance.

      Obviously this council has issues, and sending Weaver in makes sense, but the grounds and method of intervention where flawed. If the full version has Weaver explaining all of this please ignore me but the short clip seems to imply she did not.

      Until the legitimacy and organisational structure of the meeting has been decided how can anything be carried out fairly? Surely Weaver knew the grounds and reasons so the question of whether she stated them clearly and fairly should be the relavent focus not the poor behaviour which is then easily resolved once we have answered the above.

      1. Brian Tolver did not call the meeting, and had been refusing to call regular parish council meetings for 6 months, despite it being his responsibility to do so.

        The extra ordinary meeting was called correctly by two other councillors using the powers given to them to do so in the Standing Orders.

        There was no usual clerk because Brian had fired him following a disagreement with him and Brian was had styling himself “clerk”, as well as claiming position of chairman. It’s worth noting that being chairman of the Parish Council does not confer automatic right to chair all meetings, including those called by other councillors. However, he had no power to unilaterally appoint himself clerk to the parish council (see Britney Spears).

        There was no de facto chair of this meeting at the outset, and it was a rather unprecedented situation, however as a courtesy Brian was offered the opportunity to chair the meeting. However, since Brian had been trying to block the holding of meetings and was therefore refusing to recognise the meeting as legitimate he effectively disallowed himself from being able to chair a meeting he refused to accept existed. He also broke the rules on personal conduct and speaking respectfully by shouting at Jackie Weaver (the “fuck off” alone would have been sufficient but she gave him a free pass on that by tactfully suggesting muting microphones).

        The role of vice chair is a red herring in this context. It flows from the existence of the role of chair of the Parish Council and applies to regular meetings, not this extra ordinary meeting. Again, by calling the meeting illegal he created a situation in which he could not effectively chair a meeting of which he would not admit the existence. Again, he also broke the rules on conduct, because… well you saw… and the consequences for that are being disbarred from the meeting.

        On to the legitimacy of Jackie Weaver’s role. She was brought in to clerk the meeting by the two councillors who had called the meeting. She was brought in for her legal and procedural knowledge and experience. Until a chair had been formally selected the meeting had not begun and the clerk had the responsibility to accept entry to the meeting to only people with a right to be there. Obviously those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of a meeting and give every appearance of only being there to disrupt the meeting forfeit any right to attend.

        If you watch the whole meeting, after it starts properly with John as the chair it is a model of a perfectly conducted and clerked meeting, where they waste no time in getting on with the backlog of business that had accumulated while Brian had been obstructing the holding of meetings, including approving the budget so bills could be paid.

        On a side point, as it was another red herring, when Brian and Aled tell Jackie Weaver she’s wrong about there being no difference between clerk and proper officer, and roundly abuse her for not knowing “the law”, they are wrong and she is right. It’s in the Standing Orders. Their credibility, despite their shouty outrage, is on the floor now. Here’s the clause:

        3. Proper Officer
        A The Council’s Proper Officer shall be either (i) the Clerk or such other employee as may
        be nominated by the Council from time to time or (ii) such other employee appointed
        by the Council to undertake the role of Proper Officer during the Proper Officer’s
        absence. The Proper Officer and the employee appointed to act as such during the
        Proper officer’s absence shall fulfil the duties assigned to the Proper Officer in Standing
        Orders.

        1. Excellent. I found this very helpful in understanding the situation. It will be interesting to see what happens from here.

        2. Thanks, that clears up a main question I had about who the clerk is and why weren’t they there.

          Who is the P and E committee chair and why weren’t they there?

        3. In clause 3 which you quoted, it states that the proper officer can be a clerk or employee. However it does not state that a clerk or employee is the proper officer.

          In other words, the the position of the proper officer is only able to be taken up by a clerk of the council or an employee of the council, however out of the pool of people that match that criteria, the person still needs to be appointed or nominated by the council. Without that appointment a clerk or employee remain as such and there is therefore a difference between the two.

          Secondly, from my perspective, Tolver was attempting to set the context of the meeting. Powers of the chair have been established in the original post. In my view Mrs Weaver usurped those powers from the chair. She effectively had the keys to the meeting room and took the decision to lock the validly elected chair out of the room.

          Ignoring the rule of law and having judgement by popular opinion has historically been a bad idea.

          1. Your final sentence sums this up.

            It appears to be pretty obvious that the Chairman was extremely pedantic in manner, the Vice Chairman was inappropriately aggressive and the third Cllr was generally irritating. In contrast, the Clerk and the other Cllrs come across as likeable, community minded and positive.

            However, the law doesn’t operate like that, sad and frustrating though this is. Much as their general conduct was terrible, the 3 Cllrs were legally correct in their comments even if their manner left a lot to be desired. The key remains that on this occasion (perhaps the only occasion of this lengthy saga), the 3 Cllrs happened to be correct.

            It is sadly clear that the Clerk, (likely after being influenced by previous historic events of the Council and the 4 challenging minutes of discussion before the meeting formally started), wrongly acted to exclude the chair and thereby acted illegally and outside their powers. Whilst there were considerable mitigating factors, this was still wrong and obviously so.

        4. I am confused by the statement that the chairman had refused to hold meetings for the past six months. If this is the case why does the agenda call for agreeing the minutes of a meeting held just one month before?

        5. Now I might be wrong about the specific standing orders for this Parish Council, but the model standing orders (shown here: http://askyourcouncil.uk/model-standing-orders/list-of-model-standing-orders) seem to disagree with your point that: “There was no de facto chair of this meeting”

          They instead say “ The Chairman, if present, shall preside at a meeting. If the Chairman is absent from a meeting, the Vice-Chairman, if present, shall preside. If both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman are absent from a meeting, a councillor as chosen by the councillors present at the meeting shall preside at the meeting. [Applicable to: Full Council meetings]”

          This appears to refer to the Chairman of the council chair-ing any “Full Council meeting” which it appears that this was. I cannot speak as to the legitimacy of the meeting, but it seems to be claimed to be invoked by the part 6(b) of those standing orders regarding an “extraordinary meeting of the council” in the circumstance where: “If the Chairman of the Council does not or refuses to call an extraordinary meeting of the council within seven days of having been requested in writing to do so by two councillors, any two councillors may convene an extraordinary meeting of the council.” I’m fairly certain that such a meeting would constitute a “meeting of the Full Council” because it is not one of a committee or subcommittee, but I might be wrong.

          Anyway just to say, from what I can see the Chairman was indeed the de facto chair followed by the Vice-Chairman, but I guess that it might be incorrect from the perspective of the specific Parish Council’s standing orders.

          I’d love to find out that my interpretation was wrong.

    2. Agree 100% a couple of the men were extremely rude and I thought Jackie handled it very well! The Chair deserved to be thrown out. He wouldn’t have spoken like that to any of the men!

  4. Someone posted their standing orders on twitter which said the clerk was the proper officer? I think the previous exclusion May have been at a meeting earlier that day

    1. I suggest that the person appointed as clerk for the meeting is the proper officer for the office of the clerk for that meeting, unless there are any grounds to resist that appointment.

      1. We have a tantalising glimpse of a somewhat inverted soap opera world, in which the meeting is not a meeting of the council but rather a meeting of a committee of the council, whose membership just happens to include the entire elected council; the suspended parish clerk is the proper officer of the council, but the clerk of the committee meeting is not the parish clerk; and in the event the elected chair of the meeting is not the elected chair of the council or even the chair of the council committee (and none of the chairs is the clerk of the meeting or the clerk of the council, although I suppose one of them could be acting as the acting parish clerk, while the actual but suspended parish clerk is suspended, until the suspension is ended).

        Confused? You soon will be.

        I wonder, does a parish planning and environmental committee have any weightier matters to consider than where to site the litter bins, who should empty them, and how often?

          1. As I understand it, the parish council is not a planning authority that actually takes decisions to approve or reject planning applications in its area. That would be the unitary Cheshire East Council.

            The parish council will be a “statutory consultee” for planning applications in their area (see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/consultation-and-pre-decision-matters#Statutory-consultees-on-applications for the various statutory consultees, which can include the Canal and River Trust and Coal Authority, through Historic England, Natural England and Sports England, to toll road concessionaries and water and sewerage undertakers) but all it can do is “consider” (that is, review and form a view on) the applications that are made to Cheshire East Council and then make representations about them, in much the same way as any private resident could.

          2. Planning applications wouldn’t be determined by a parish council. However, the local planning authority (possibly the unitary authority in this case) would consult parish councils for their comments on some applications. I suspect the listed planning applications would be because they had been consulted by the unitary authority on applications the UA had received.

  5. Parish Council Meetings: another excellent addition to the insights to be found in the I-hope-forthcoming ‘Bumper Book of Things Which Are Supposed to be Boring’.

  6. Dear oh dear. Sometimes local councils deal efficiently with the matters within their purview. And sometimes they bring together people with strong but opposing views who fight like cats in a bag about trivial matters.

    From what you say, it seems that the extraordinary meeting was properly convened at the request of two councillors as the standing orders allow. The standing orders also specify who should chair the meeting – the Chair, or in his absence the Vice-Chair, and in the absence of both, another councillor elected by those attending. The standing orders do not appear to give another person the authority to chair a meeting, or to exclude another councillor from a meeting. There also does not appear to be an ability to remove the chair from office, unless he resigns or becomes disqualified. Is that dealt with by some other rules or law that overrides the standing orders?

    The standing orders also state that the parish clerk shall be its “proper officer”. Is that Jackie Weaver? But what authority does Jackie Weaver have to run the meeting, and to exclude elected council members from a meeting? Surely her proper role is an administrative, not executive, one?

    Presumably there is an underlying dispute here, not just an argument about authority and procedure?

    1. “Presumably there is an underlying dispute here, not just an argument about authority and procedure?”

      The ‘best of’ video seems to have compiled the most procedurally hilarious bits together, and skipped the (presumably less amusing) matters of substance.

      1. The minutes seem to have disappeared from the council’s website, but some are cached by Google.

        From that, the substantive issue appears to be a dispute between the chair and the clerk, about whether one councillor had failed to attend meetings for six months and so ceased to be a councillor (by automatic operation of law, if you like: LGA 1972, s.85), thus creating a casual vacancy. It seems that the clerk said they had and they were. The chair disagreed.

        Some of this seems to turn on advice from legal counsel about when you start counting the six months (last attendance, or first meeting missed) and whether you count time when meetings are suspended during a global pandemic and national lock-down.

        As a result, it seems that the chair suspended the parish clerk, which is why other people start turning up at the meetings to act as clerk. The most recent minutes suggest the chair’s faction has lost control of the council and they have ended the clerk’s suspension.

        What a palaver.

  7. Nice level of background and detail.

    It appears to me, having watched the 18 minute ‘highlights’ video along with this blogpost, that the root cause of the issue is that Cllr Tolver – the Chair – has self-appointed himself as Clerk, unelected, and has been using this position in a way many of the council and the public deem inappropriate (I’m not sure what this is, but the Clerk is the person with the pursestrings I believe, so may have been spending money in a way not agreed by the council?) and has also been refusing to agree to hold any council meetings – presumably requested for this to be discussed.

    I’m not really clear who would appoints a Clerk. Nor what the hierarchy of a Parish Council is. Is the Chair not above the Clerk?

  8. “You would not get any of what really happened from the official minutes.

    This is a useful reminder to all – including historians and legal commentators – that formal documents often do not give the full story.”

    I’m sure this is true for all meetings – the idea that minutes give a full and unedited version of what is said in meetings has always seemed to me to be fanciful. Auditors / regulators etc. for example may and do ask to view the minutes of e.g. Board meetings. It is, if nothing else, at the least tempting to ensure that more ‘controversial’ statements are included with care if at all in the minutes.

    1. In my experience, formal minutes have to be circulated to everyone in the meeting for approval and amendments before being finalised and published. And that process in itself can take a lot of time as people ‘reinterpret’ what was discussed in the meeting to make sure what is documented is the ‘right’ version of events. And people don’t always agree on these interpretations, things may intentionally get left out as they’re deemed ‘conversational’ when they probably shouldn’t have been etc.

      Basically, Minutes are a heavily sanitised version of events. Not incorrect, but certainly not the unabashed truth either.

      1. Reminds us of painful instances in Russia where we thought minutes of meetings were a record of what was discussed and agreed but what was issued were protokols which were a statement of what was wanted by the responsible parties, weeks or months after the event…

      2. My understanding is that a P.C. minutes need only record decisions, that is things agreed by a majority of the councillors present. They are not Hansard. But the record of decisions is vital, especially if they involve spending. Nothing may be spent without a minute to authorise it and each item in the accounts should have the appropriate minute recorded. Anything else is “by the way”.

      3. That is why it’s good practice to keep them brief but factual and true. The more detail you put in, the more will get disputed at the next meeting.

    2. Indeed – having had to minute some fairly fractious meetings at the University at which I used to work, I found that the phrase ‘After some discussion it was decided that […]’ did a lot of the heavy lifting when trying to disguise the reality of what had actually occurred.

      1. Absolutely – I have used that one many times, Colette!

        The best advice I was ever given on taking minutes was: “Your job is not to record what people said, or what they thought they said, but what they would have said had they been thinking.”

        1. Apparently the minutes of one of our early fishing club meetings (50s I think) recorded that “the meeting broke up in disarray”..!

    3. WRT minutes, I recall a meeting (work not council) where the minutes were taken by a secretary with no prior experience of writing minutes, but excellent shorthand. The resulting minutes were long, rambling and almost unusable, because they included everything said, and did not clearly pick out the actual decisions.

  9. Interesting that Handforth PC considers a separate planning committee necessary at all with only seven elected members on the council. With a relatively small community and a precept of about £85k, the business could probably easily be transacted in the course of the regular council meetings. The council appears not to be a planning authority but is merely meeting to form its opinion on planning applications (presumably with input from the public) and to provide objection or representation to the planning authority.

    1. It’s a ‘Planning and Environment Committee’, not a statutory planning committee. As you say, it probably functions to collate opinions/objections on planning applications, to then submit to the proper planning authority (via the ‘proper planning officers’).

    2. That’s pretty common, to be honest, there’s probably several committees on various policy areas. Any conclusions reached by those committees climb up the tree to the main council meeting. If they didn’t do it that way, the main meeting would go on for hours and would be even less accessible to the public.

    3. Parish councils are not planning authorities, but are statutory consultees. Their responses to planning applications consultations need to be agreed by the council either at full council or by delegating authority to a planning committee.

  10. I am still confused as to how Red Adair, sorry Jackie Weaver, came to be at the meeting, why she was acting as clerk, or what her status was. Does the Cheshire Association of Local Authorities have any formal authority over the parish councils in its patch? Who invited her?

    None of which is in any way to exonerate the parish council chairman and his loutish sidekicks, who appear to have behaved appallingly.

    1. There is a fair summary of the role of a parish clerk here: https://askyourcouncil.uk/governance-toolkit/part-two-the-parish-clerk/

      Typically they are employed (often a small council’s only employee, and perhaps not even full time) to undertake the council’s administration and give advice to the councillors about what the council can (and can’t) do, and how it goes about doing what it wants to do, and often then arranging for the decisions to be implemented. It encompasses issues that are legal, procedural, and ethical including governance and often finance too, and then the day-to-day running of the council’s affairs.

      The Cheshire Association of Local Authorities appears to be a voluntary organisation to bring local councils together, without any particular official authority. https://www.chalc.org.uk/about-us.html

      There is a professional organisation for parish clerks, the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) which arranges training and provides qualifications, eg, https://www.slcc.co.uk/qualification/cilca/

      And a London guild (without livery), https://www.londonparishclerks.com/

      This sudden exposure to public attention must be pretty uncomfortable for all of those concerned with the Handforth Parish Council. Except I suppose for any who may be basking in it.

        1. Indeed. Mrs Weaver has said that “she was called in to help and “support” parish councillors to hold the meeting rather than “train” them.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-55946252

          It is not clear to me if she was acting as parish clerk, and if so when she was formally appointed to that position. The chair seems to think she could be acting as parish clerk or as proper officer (in many ways the two are synonymous).

          When are the next elections?

        2. In the absence of the Clerk at a Parish Council Meeting (eg kn case of illness) then they (the Clerk or the Council) can request a locum from their local ALC (Association of Local Councils). This is more common with larger councils, in cases of longer term absence, or if the Council require guidance or advice on legal/statutory/Governance matters during the meeting which a qualified Clerk would be able to provide.
          For smaller Councils, last minute absences, or where there are no other options, a Councillor may take the minutes at any meeting, but they do not become the Clerk by doing so.

          It appears that Jackie, as a qualified Clerk and member of the ALC was requested to attend in lieu of the Parish Council’s employed Clerk in order that guidance and advice for any procedural or legal matters be available during the meeting. If they had simply required that someone take the minutes then Jackie would (presumably) not have been requested to attend.

    2. It’s many years since I invoked the”two member” rule to call a parish assembly to object to a parish council decision. We also brought in the then County Secretary but the meeting was actually very polite. The PC chairman chaired it. The meeting voted overwhelmingly to ask the PC to change its mind. At the next meeting the majority decided not to. Six months later were the PC elections and only two of us got re-elected!

  11. Having watched the video, I can reliably inform you that a not insubstantial fraction of my soul has withered, and subsequently died.

  12. There did seem to be a Catch-22 situation involved, at the point that the disruptive Chair was removed. To conform strictly with the standing orders, a new Chair should have been appointed with the authority to remove the old one (assuming that the previous Chair wasn’t willing to appoint a successor or remove himself).

    But once Jackie Weaver had taken the initiative and removed the old Chair, well at that point the dissenters may as well have argued that Muammar Gadaffi remains the rightful ruler of Libya in 2020 and tried to reinstate him, as to try and question the authority of Jackie Weaver.

  13. “And the excluded chair and the disruptive councillors can hardly complain about their exclusions on the basis of non-compliance with the Standing Orders if, as they maintained, the committee meeting was illegitimate to begin with.

    For on their own version of events, there was no valid committee meeting even taking place.”

    All a bit of fun, but I’m not sure I follow this line of reasoning. Quite clearly the Chairman is mistaken in his belief that the meeting was illegitimacy called, but since the meeting *has been* legitimately called, surely they can still object to their exclusion.

    If I mistakenly believe – and even mistakenly ascertain – that a court case which names me has been wrongly convened, do I then lose all right to be included in the proceedings because “on my own version of events, there was no valid proceedings even taking place”?

    Further, Walker excludes people which the video does not show to have made any point regarding whether the proceedings were or weren’t properly convened.

    I’m also not convinced by this:

    “given that this exclusion was then accepted by the new chair, and that the disruption was plain, that does not seem to practically matter.”

    Why does the judgment of the new chair matter? He wasn’t acting as chair at the time, I think we need more on why this is important.

    The disruption being clearly plain isn’t the grounds for exclusion laid out under the standing orders. They quite clearly state that the chair needs to state there has been disruption, and then another member needs to press for exclusion. That didn’t happen.

    As I say, all a bit of fun, but a lesson to future historians that the spoils go to the victor. On the coldest interpretation, Walker seems most in violation (perhaps exclusively, but we could debate the disruption) of the standing orders, but the Chair and Vice-Chair seem the much more objectionable attendees.

    1. So the problem with standing order 10 “Disorderly Conduct” is that there is *no way* of dealing with offensive, obstructive or improper conduct ** by the Chair(man) **.

      10(B) explicitly identifies the Chair(man) as being the person to initiate disorderly conduct proceedings, with it needing to be seconded by any other councillor.

      So in this case, the person who identified themselves as the Chair(man) of this meeting (who also said the meeting was “illegal”), was also the disruptive force, so in that scenario how can anyone else in the meeting deal with the Disorderly Conduct?

      So if someone takes the Chair, then they have all the power to conduct the meeting how they wish, because it is impossible to police their conduct, and it is in their power to decide if a person is “Disorderly” or not.

      1. In other words podpilot, like many kinds of Standing Orders, their Standing Orders were designed to facilitate functioning human beings in discussion, and are very vulnerable to procedural abuse when some members wish to paralyse the council in conducting its business.

  14. “Presumably the exclusions can be taken to then be ratified by the new chair, though this is not expressly said or minuted (and given the sequence of events, such a subsequent ratification may have been appropriate).”

    The video purports to be a ‘best of’ compilation, so presumably that moment in the proceedings didn’t provide the right ratio of dullness and hilarity.

  15. “Further, Walker excludes people which the video does not show to have made any point regarding whether the proceedings were or weren’t properly convened.”

    The tyrannical whims of Jackie Weaver seem to have led to the exclusion of Alan’s Ipad purely on the basis that it has a similar name to Aled’s Ipad (one of the disruptors).

    (Alan’s Ipad was later let back into the meeting though.)

    “a lesson to future historians that the spoils go to the victor.”

    Hence my reference to Gadaffi in my earlier comment.

  16. It would seem that the agendas and minutes of past meetings have now been removed from the Handworth PC website. Something is rotten in the state of Handworth.

  17. David,
    Have you seen the video of the subsequent meeting in January? I’d like to read your thoughts on the ‘advice of counsel’ discussion.

  18. To boil it down:

    There are 6 parish councilors?

    Jackie Weaver [not a councilor] booted 3 of them from the meeting, then had the remainder elect a new chair?

    Looks like the majority of the council, including the chair were removed before the vote. What am I missing.

    1. That is exactly what happened and it’s normal under Cheshire East. People seem to find it funny. It really isn’t funny.

    2. You missed that it was not a parish council meeting. It was an emergency subcommittee meeting, that was called in the face of the opposition of the Chairman of the Parish Council, who refused to allow the meeting and did so in an unpleasant way, and hence was excluded, possibly even though nobody there had the authority to exclude him.

      Perhaps the correct way to do things would have been for there to have been a full PC meeting, at which the chairman could have been deposed, thus allowing the subcommittee to carry on.

      But maybe calling in Jackie Weaver for summary justice was easier and quicker.

      By the way, does anyone know what the meeting was about? All we have seen are the procedural skirmishes.

    3. The issue at the core of this is that the Chair of the council wouldn’t call any meetings, so two other councillors called one (presumably legally) to get a meeting happening. The chair of the council is simply not the chair of the meeting in that case, otherwise it would forever be impossible for *any* meeting to occur, as the blocking chair could simply dissolve any meeting a few seconds after it started.
      We simply have to separate the Chair of the Council from the chair of the meeting, and everything is legal and works fine.
      As for Jackie? Well done.

  19. The big black hole in the middle of this story seems to be on what basis the Chair was replaced.

    I must assume that provision is made in the rules to ensure that the incumbent Chair cannot abuse their position to procedurally filibuster a majority decision to replace them. But how that actually works, and whether the correct procedure for doing it was followed here, is not clear from the film or documents presented.

    If the incumbent Chair refuses to recognise the meeting’s legitimacy, then perhaps it follows that the meeting cannot recognise them as Chair of the meeting? Again, otherwise it would allow the incumbent to stonewall proceedings by just showing up and saying “yah boo sucks”, so there must be a path forward in such circumstances, but we’re none the wiser as to what it is.

    1. I don’t think the Standing Orders really contemplate the Chairman trying to do that. Those are linked to in the article, so you can read them for yourself. Under the Disorderly Conduct provisions, “no one” can act in such a way at a meeting, but the process to remove such persons usually is initiated by the Chairman.

      Strictly speaking I don’t think they would have any procedural problem with doing what was done (although obviously electing a new chairman before removing the current one and not after would have been cleaner.) because clearly the first sub clause and the intent of the provision is to prevent precisely the kind of thing that happened.

      I’d be curious to know what happened at their most recent AGM, as that would generally be when the chair is elected. Is the bad blood fairly recent I wonder?

  20. I too have taken this far too seriously!

    It’s good to get the whole picture, and a very good summary is here:

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1357475502357950465.html

    There are three pertinent videos: the meeting of 10 Dec to which you refer, and those of 12 & 21 January. Ms Weaver returns in the latter. I think all three are on YouTube now, but if not, the minutes for all are on the PC website and those for 21 Jan include the details for viewing that meeting on zoom.

    However, the best starting point for clarity of what lies behind it all is probably the minutes of 27th August. Here we learn that a Councillor who has not attended a meeting since December was automatically retired from post by the salaried Clerk, employed by the PC from their overall budget of nearly £250k, after taking advice from the relevant local authority, which relied on a barrister’s opinion and cited relevant case law, the contention being that the Chair had not called any meetings since March due to COVID-19. The clerk was advised that the lack of meetings did not obviate the automatic retirement, and an announcement of a vacancy. An individual councillor sought separate barrister opinion, which contradicted this, and said that the period of non-attendance would cease accruing from the point at which scheduled meetings were suspended. The PC’s employment committee met and – in brief – suspended the clerk pending an investigation, but a member also sent an email – accidentally cc’d to all PC members and the clerk, asking for instructions on “how to get rid of” the clerk. There are two clear factions, three councillors in each, with the fourth – automatically retired – providing a majority group of which the chair, vice-chair and the other cllr excluded in the video (also current non-exec mayor of Cheshire East) thenceforth using process to block the routine functioning of the council in the interests of parishioners.

    At the core of this, therefore, is the conflicting barristers’ advice: there are nuances about whence this was derived that can be found in the minutes, and in an outburst from the vice chair in the video of 12 Jan.

    In this sense, JW is arguably preventing, rather than staging, a coup; the standing orders are weak in not articulating the primacy of the code of conduct, such that any significant breach manifested by bullying and aggression by any person should lead to emergency preventative action by any other person, perhaps?

    Anyway, by 21st Jan we see JW back clerking; the chair excludes himself from the meeting, and after the public meeting which tidies up the obstructed procedures then meets off camera and reinstated the salaried clerk. I found earlier also minutes of a planning & environment committee this week, attended and chaired by the chair, with the three councillors not of his group all present, and the salaried clerk back in post, doing excellent work, unanimously, in tree preservation. Democracy restored for now, although the minutes still record the autoretired councillor’s absence, the PC website lists that seat as vacant, but the Cheshire East website, while having 4 notices of vacancies at other town / parish councils, does not give notice of one at Handforth. The saga continues …

    1. I’ve just followed up on that thread and the most recent meeting – it appears the meeting referred to was actually one from 2020, before this conflagration. Someone just misread the date when they posted it online. The actual last meeting was held on the 21st of January, and JW chaired that meeting.

      The Chair attended but removed himself very early on, and the other members of that faction did not attend. The faction of 3 that was in the famous video again had the meeting to themselves and formally reinstated the salaried clerk to their position. So I would expect to see the former clerk at the next meeting, currently scheduled for the 10th of February.

    2. Democracy isnt a synoym with sensible or right. In fact continued turmoil is actually the most democratic, though obviously undesireable

  21. It seems to me that there is a dichotomy of meanings in the word “Chairman”, given that any formal meeting needs a chairman, and that is not necessarily the chairman of the organisation holding the meeting.

    1. One (now defunct) organisation I was involved with sought to solve that by distinguishing between the Chairperson (a specific officer), the Chair (the person actually chairing the meeting) and the chair (the abstract point of authority). It worked in the rules themselves but could cause confusion in minutes, reports and the like.

  22. I think Jackie Weaver was correct in saying there is no difference between clerk and proper officer (it’s in the Standing Orders). This has been riveting

  23. There is however one important issue here – was the statutory notice referred within the standing orders “must be signed by the two councillors?” If it was merely a request sent separately by two councillors (likely to have been the case within current restrictions), this would surely be invalid as it was not done in the prescribed way?

    Therefore, the Chairman would actually have been correct in stating it was an illegal meeting and was invalid as soon as it commenced. At that point, everything afterwards .. whilst highly entertaining .. was therefore irrelevant along the same lines as the decision to prorogue Parliament…as such the decisions made at that meeting cannot lawfully be enacted..

    1. I tend to agree with otter. The two councillors had their names affixed to the public notice made available a week before the meeting. This was uploaded online and I also presume emailed to the other councillors. This is clear from the fact that the public and the council were in attendance.

      If it ever came to that, I would assumed the two councillors would happily attest either in an tribunal or a court that they did indeed request the meeting and affixed their name to the notice. I can’t see that being at all controversial as it effectively carries the same authority and authenticity as a signature on a document.

      1. I accept Otter’s point. Having rechecked the agenda, the names of the two Cllrs that called the meeting are noted on it. Although it is not actually “signed” by them in accordance with the standing order, this would be sufficient. However, this is still a very odd standing order – common place for 2 Cllrs to be able to call extraordinary meetings but not for them to also decide the specific time, date and venue of the meeting. Still minor point in the scheme of things…

  24. If one is going to draw fine distinctions, surely the one to go for is that the Chairman and crew got kicked out of the meeting room, not the committee meeting? No different to holding the meeting upstairs at a pub and being told to leave by the landlord. There were three remaining members so they could continue.

  25. Just to note on – ‘in the waiting room they were advised that they would be welcome to rejoin the meeting if they ceased their disruptive behaviour. There was no response.’ – on Zoom, you can message people who are in a waiting room, but they cannot message back :D

  26. You’ve shown the minutes of the wrong meeting (at least not the one that corresponds with the video).

    You’ve shown the minutes for the Planning meeting which was at 7pm.

    This linked recording relates to the Extraordinary meeting which started at 7.40pm in which councillors refer to having been kicked out of the planning meeting. That’s the “last time”.

    The minutes from the Extraordinary meeting are at https://www.handforth.org.uk/archive/2020/Minutes/Minutes-Dec-2020.pdf

    Thanks for the blog, I was truly baffled about what was going on.

  27. This is just to say

    I have read and understood
    the Standing Orders
    that you claim
    allow you to take charge

    but according to which
    this entire meeting
    does not actually
    exist

    Excuse me
    you’re being disruptive
    and I am now to be known as
    Britney Spears.

  28. Not a good day for local democracy.

    I should think most normal people would rather put pins in their eyes than have anything to do with this sort of thing.

    Which leaves the field open to control freaks and nutters – surely that could not happen….

  29. The minutes show 6 councillors were present. The minimum number for a parish council meeting to be qu orate is 5. But how many ended up in the ‘waiting room’? If it was 2 or more the remaining councillors could not make valid decisions on behalf of the PC as a body because the meeting was not quorate.

      1. Yes indeed. Minimum to be quorate is 3. Sched 12 of 1972 Act. Sorry. Not sure where I got the idea quorum is 5. Maybe I need to go to Specsavers.

  30. I’m a lawyer who works in non-profit governance, though here in Canada, not the UK. I disagree strongly with your conclusions. In the same entertaining context in which you wrote your piece, please enjoy this rebuttal of your statutory interpretation errors:

    The key is the paragraph immediately following the quoting of section D: The author assumed the renegades were correct to invoke D.

    They may have been or they may not have been, but if I were the lawyer for either side I would see this as the key question: Evil Jackie Weaver’s side will need to say the circumstances for D were met, while the side of Truth and Justice would have to show why it was not. There’s no indication either way, so the author is incorrect to move quickly past and get to his conclusion.

    Second major problem is the author did not include the definitions section of the regulations. ‘Chairman’ is used, but the author speaks of Weaver as Chair of the Meeting, while from what we see, ‘Chairman’ is a title for a committee head, not one who presides a meeting (a chair). It would appear only the Chairman can decide on disruptive behaviour. We don’t know because the author didn’t provide the info. In the absence of that definition, the author is further incorrect to get to his conclusion.

    We also don’t know if the Orders allow for someone other than a Chairman to chair a meeting. Some do some don’t. This would be mentioned in the bylaws as well, which we are not presented. Can someone other than the Vice Chairman act as ‘chair’?

    If any of these three points were not true, as I posit, then the claim of Weaver’s authority is bogus.

    1. Dear Canadian Lawyer, I think you are attempting to answer a question which hadn’t been asked, perhaps misdirected by Brian Tolver’s explosive statement that Jackie Weaver had no authority. Jackie Weaver, however, did not respond to that because it was a provocative distraction. She did not claim authority and she only acted where her role demanded a responsibility, which was to assist the meeting, not individual personalities, and provide expert support on the correct governance. Until the meeting opens it is always the clerk’s responsibility to ensure it does so properly.

      1. It is worth noting, Ellie, that the meeting had started. It’s starts at 03:30 in the video linked in the blog when the chair of the meeting says ‘right we’ll start the meeting’

        1. Meetings start when the chair states the meeting has convened. This meeting was a bit different because it did not have a de facto chair and had to convene with the voting in of a chair (briefly, the Chairman of Parish Council (Brian) had not called this meeting, in fact he had been obstructing the holding of meetings and rejecting requests to call a meeting, so this meeting was called by two other councillors using the powers given them). Nevertheless, Brian was offered the chance to chair the meeting as a courtesy, but the motion still had to be proposed and seconded before he could chair and the meeting could officially begin. This didn’t happen because he effectively disallowed himself by creating an impossibity; in refusing to accept that the meeting could legally exist. He could only chair it by recognising its legitimacy, which he explicitly rejected. Until that point it is the clerk’s responsibility (not authority, that is one of the terms used misleadingly in the meeting by several people who, despite their vociferous outrage at their perceived knowledge of the Standing Orders versus the ignorance of others, did not seem to have a better grasp of them than of their own tempers) to admit people into the meeting as long as they had a right to be there. Those flouting the rules on respect and attempting to disrupt the holding of the meeting by challenging its legitimacy disbarred themselves by their conduct. The meeting had been called correctly by the two councillors following the council’s own rules and the attacks on its legality were spurious. Thus the meeting did not officially begin until John Smith was voted in as chair and the remaining quorum of 3 went ahead to deal with all the business which had been outstanding for over 6 months whilst Brian Tolver had been blocking the holding of meetings over a disagreement with the usual clerk.

          1. Sorry – can’t agree – The formal start of the meeting was clearly at 04:38 in the unedited video and was clearly stated as such by Cllr Tolver. It is correct that he immediately begins to start making a comment expressing concern about the legitimacy but nonetheless the meeting (and therefore the meeting standing orders) start at that precise point. As such, any disruptive behaviour from 04:38 onwards should have been addressed through the standing order process and not by automatic removal. The conduct before 04:38 was unpleasant but not deemed disruptive at that point.

          2. That’s just not true. There is clearly no doubt in any of the delegates minds, Jackie Weaver included, that Brian Tolver was chairing the meeting. Indeed she invites him to ‘start’ the meeting on several occasions (33-s, 01:05 mins and 3 mins). In the latter occasion she asks ‘are *you* going to to start the meeting, or shall we elect an *alternative* chair’. In addition to her three invites for Tolver to start the meeting (a responsibility that she knows is that if the chair) as well as well as the use of the word ‘alternative’ here indicates that she absolutely knows knows that, as things stand, Tolver is the appointed chair. Otherwise she would have just said ‘before we can start the meeting we need to appoint a chair’. John Smith also refers to him as Chair earlier in the video.

  31. Having waited some ten months for our parish council to organise a Zoom meeting, we then saw that the vice-chairman was acting as the chairman, who was now sitting as an ordinary councillor, because the chairman had some time in the last few months privately asked the vice-chairman to do so but the chairman confirmed he was the chairman. The meeting proceeded being chaired by the vice-chairman. Send in Jackie Weaver!

  32. I have an unpopular opinion on this, and that is that Jackie Weaver is completely in the wrong. The meeting explicitly starts at 03:30 mins in the video above (when the chair of the meeting says ‘Right we’ll start the meeting’). He is rudely interrupted by Jackie Weaver after just 10-s at which point Jackie Weaver is (quite rightly) asked by the chair not to interrupt him.

    Jackie Weaver responds to the request to not interrupt the chair by stating if the chair (who she had just interrupted) continues to disrupt the meeting (note at this point she is the only person to have disrupted the meeting, when she interrupted the chair after just 10-s) then she will have to remove him.

    She is then quite correctly informed by the chair of the meeting that she has not right to eject anyone from he meeting, and she responds to this by ejecting the Chair from the meeting, like a spoilt child (an action that was only possible, we should note, by virtue of the fact she happened to be the zoom host).

    Yet popular opinion seems to be that she was in the right? Really? Well next time you are in a meeting, interrupt the chair of the meeting after 10-s and see how well it goes down. If she disagreed with him, the proper course of action would be to virtually raise a hand and wait until he has finished speaking. Then when it was her turn to speak she would have been well within her rights to offer a rebuttal.

    1. I am reluctantly inclined to agree with you.

      Ms Weaver was clearly legitimately present to help advise on governance to the Council. The Chairman introduced the meeting (albeit reluctantly) and was then almost immediately interrupted by Ms Weaver.

      The Chairman rightly informed Ms Weaver that she should not be interrupting but also wrongly stated that she had no authority to advise the meeting and did so in an arguably unhelpful manner.

      At this point, Ms Weaver has decided to remove him from the meeting presumably on the grounds that he was disruptive. At the time when this occurred, this was clearly outside her authority as it was only the Chairman that could do this and other Cllrs were right in principle to state that although their manner for doing so was wrong. She could only do this because she appears to have been assigned the Zoom host. If this had been a physical meeting, she could not have removed the Chair from the meeting although could have legitimately advised other Cllrs on how to action this.

      Ms Weaver then erred again by asking for a Chairman. The standing orders make it very clear that in the absence of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman takes over and again he is correct in stating this. However, by then going on to shout at Ms Weaver to read the rules, he became clearly disruptive and showed a lack of respect towards her.

      Ms Weaver then removed him as well to which she had no authority at the time although as other posts state was later retrospectively agreed by the person who then became the chair of the meeting. The original author flags up the procedural point that this should have been recorded later in the meeting. A discussion does take place about “whether to let them back in” but that does not change that the original exclusion was wrong.

      It does seem that amongst all the numerous entertaining distractions of mystery IPads, people calling themselves different names, swearing, hyena noises, general shouting and procedural rants, the key aspect remains unchanged namely that it was the initial actions of Ms Weaver once the meeting had formally begun that set off the subsequent chain of events. This does not in any way excuse any of those subsequent behaviours from certain Cllrs but merely that the procedural elements were not followed. This is hardly surprising in the very difficult circumstances.

      1. This appear to be a totally dysfunctional council and unfortunately the actions of Jackie Weaver have not helped the situation.
        The question asked by the author is “Did Jackie Weave have the authority ?”
        The conclusion is that “Weaver did not appear to have the formal power to exclude the disruptive councillors – but, given that this exclusion was then accepted by the new chair, and that the disruption was plain, that does not seem to practically matter.”

        Standing Orders, the rules by which all meetings of Council and its committees are run (regardless of whether they are extraordinary) do not give the Chair of a meeting the right to exclude Councillors from a meeting. The standing order in question, quoted by the author is

        10 b. If, in the opinion of the Chairman, there has been a breach of standing order 10(A) above, the Chairman shall express that opinion and thereafter any councillor (including the Chairman) may move that the person be silenced or excluded from the meeting, and the motion, if seconded, shall be put forthwith without discussion.

        The process is that a proposal is made to exclude someone from the meeting, this has to be seconded and then voted on and the meeting decides on the exclusion. Neither the Chair, the Clerk or the Proper Officer have the right to exclude councillors from meetings. From a procedural point of view the exclusions were therefore not lawful.

        Once 3 of the 6 councillors had been excluded in this way the integrity of the meeting and any decisions made was compromised.

        1. I can follow your logic there, but it’s somewhat similar logic to the Clerk (not JW) automatically retiring a councillor for non-attendance of meetings after a period of 8 months when no meetings were called. It seems like that was a mistake, however given that rules were followed and advice given (albeit seemingly incorrect advice) from a barrister. It would be illegal to reinstate since procedures had been followed.

          Much like in the case here where 3 people were ejected from the meeting (possibly 4 since one device was shared with the vc and another councillor). Then subsequently a new Chair chosen. The action at this point had already been taken and it’s unlikely the 3 people were given the opportunity to vote on the matter of either continued exclusion or to Chair the meeting. Similar to the Clerk taking an improper action, but following the correct procedures. In this I believe the Acting Clerk took an improper action, then followed the correct procedures. It might prove that was okay for her to do (despite it seeming a flawed idea that you exclude those as a group who are likely to vote against you).

          Despite the rude shouting I’d have expected Jackie to recognise the vice chairman and this would have ended the matter, however this would mean admitting she didn’t realise there was a vc, or possibly admitting the chair’s powers. Truth be told JW only seemed to recognise the EOM should be created and no authority other than that. She subsequently admitted she didn’t know who was meant to be in charge, which is not much of a revelation considering she ignored those who announced themselves. I guess the question is, did she really not know, considering they announced themselves or as I think, more convenient to ignore any reference to it.

          I agree, once 3 of the 6 councillors were ejected, the meeting itself was compromised.

          1. “but it’s somewhat similar logic to the Clerk (not JW) automatically retiring a councillor for non-attendance of meetings after a period of 8 months when no meetings were called. It seems like that was a mistake” No, it was not a mistake. The law is clear – LGA72 s85(1). No-one has to propose a motion on it or vote on it – it is the law, it takes effect at the 6-month point since the last attendance if the absence has not been approved (in a meeting, note) before the 6 months is up, and thereafter it is a fact. It doesn’t say anything about ‘not attending meetings that are called’ or anything like that. What is strange is that one of the other Cllrs (actually this appears in the recording of a different meeting) claims to have obtained a different Counsel’s opinion that this is wrong.

    2. You are allowed to have your own view, nor matter how unpopular. Can I suggest you base it on having watched the full meeting, however, rather than the heavily edited version you’ve given a synopsis of? You will find that the meeting doesn’t start, nor escalate, in the way you describe. If you want to watch it, it’s here https://youtu.be/zpYfSnSHHug

      1. I had already watched the full meeting elsewhere, Ellie (as well as several other videos from the saga that appears to be ongoing in Handforth) . I am under no illusion that councillors Tolver and Brewerton are anything other than a pair of absolute whoppers. But none of that bears any relevance to the actions of Ms Weaver just 10-s after the start of this particular meeting. It’s simple. She should have waited until the chair finishing his point, and then, when it was her turn to speak, offered a rebuttal. Incidentally I think she is absolutely correct in arguing that Tolver is wrong when he says the meeting was called illegally. The problem isn’t that she thought he was wrong, it’s the fact she (1) interrupted him instead of letting him finish his point, and then (2) responded to his (quite understandable) request to not be interrupted – by ejecting him from the meeting. She’s a spoilt child

        1. Good Lord. SHE’S aspoilt child? That’s what you take from this? Unbelievable. She’s the spoilt child – not the shouty man baby. Right. That seems very…..objective.

          1. I agree, FM, JW conducted herself with exemplary dignity and good humour, whatever the finer points of right and wrong. We could all do well to learn from her conduct.

          2. I’ve commented elsewhere in this discussion thread that Councillors Tolver and Brewerton are a pair of absolute whoppers and appear wholly incompetent. That doesn’t change the fact that Weaver like a spoilt child, throwing her toys out the pram when she was, quite correctly, asked not to interrupt / shout over other people during me meeting

  33. If I understand correctly, a sub committee for environment and planning was set up with a membership comprising the full PC? Alarm bells ringing in my ears if that is the case.

    1. A lot of smaller parish councils have the entire membership sitting on committees. I guess it helps streamline things.

    2. It happens for mostly procedural reasons. Prevents the full council meetings going for hours, and to have detailed items discussed in their own committees.

  34. Having read the infamous standing orders myself, I am of the opinion that Councillor Brian Tolver had already forfeited the office of chair by refusing to call a prior meeting upon request (see previous minutes). Consequently, the meeting recorded on Zoom had in fact been called – in accordance with the Standing Orders – by two other “requisitioning councillors”, not by the Councillor Brian Tolver. Therefore, the extraordinary meeting, once convened, could then have been legally chaired and vice chaired by two councillors (not including Tolver) who did not necessarily need to be the councillors who called the meeting (ie “the requisitioning councillors”). So it appears to me that (1) Councillor Brian Tolver had already forfeited his right to act as chair, and (2) the requisitioning councillors (via Jackie Weaver) were therefore extending Councillor Tolver an unnecessary grace by inviting him to chair; (3) Jackie Weaver therefore had indirect authority to eject Councillor Tolver because (i) he was not the legal chair, and (ii) because she was acting – by means of delegation – on behalf of the requisitioning councillors who had in fact called the meeting.

    1. An interesting theory but not one borne out by the unedited video that is available as it is clear Cllr Tolver had not forfeited any chairing rights to the meeting.

      When people “arrive” from the waiting room, it is clear that Ms Weaver refers specifically to Cllr Tolver as the Chairman on several occasions before the meeting starts with the clear expectation from her and everyone else that he (Cllr Tolver) will be the person chairing this meeting and not some other person.

      She also specifically asks him as Chairman more than once to start the meeting. At this point, it is clearly understood by everyone that the meeting hadn’t actually started despite some points of order being made.

      After some waffling around around authority, the Chairman does eventually start the meeting formally (albeit late) and the video clearly records him doing this. He then immediately begins to make an introductory statement which is interrupted by Ms Weaver. After a short exchange, she then immediately excludes him from the meeting as Zoom host.

      It is therefore clear that (a) The usual Chairman was expected by all parties to chair the meeting and (b) The Chairman had started the meeting. As such, the standing orders of the Council applied at the time when the Chairman formally started the meeting and would have ended at the conclusion of the meeting (there are other cases elsewhere relating to the latter).

      As such, any removal of people from the meeting could only have been done in accordance with the standing orders or alternatively, the wider laws. This simply didn’t happen.

      However, a potential defence of Ms Weaver’s conduct could possibly therefore be to accept that she had acted outside her authority and their standing orders at the time by wrongly excluding the chair and vice chair of the meeting. However, she did so on the reasonable belief that her action was lawful in order to prevent other laws being broken namely perhaps around harassment? That said, it would be a high bar to argue this especially for someone who was clearly an expert in their field and despite the wider historic background to this Council.

    2. This is fundamentally in error. Nothing in the Standing Orders appears to forfeit the right of the normal Chair to act as such if he chooses to attend a meeting despite having refused to call it. And there is certainly nothing which gives Weaver the right to usurp the Chair’s sole prerogative to eject people. Even without the Chair present she had no “indirect” rights to do so. It would be for the remaining councillors to appoint a Chair and then proceed from there.

      Weaver was bang out of order, even if some of the councillors are clearly twazzocks.

    3. Points 1 and 2 may well be correct. Points 3 is a massive reach. Once they had awarded him the grace to chair the meeting (however unnecessary that may have been), points 1 and 2 become redundant. The delegates, Jackie Weaver included, had acknowledged Tolver’s role as chair. As such, (1) when Tolver announced the start of the meeting, that did, unquestionably, demarcate the start of the meeting. (2) when Jackie Weaver interrupted the chair after just 10-s, she became the only person to disrupt the meeting (3) she was quite rightly asked by the chair not to interrupt him (this is just basic manners, and standard meeting etiquette) (4) she responded to a perfectly legitimate request to not be disruptive by throwing the chair (her toys) out of the meeting (her pram).

      She’s acted like a spoilt child, and has been on a power trip enabled only by her status as zoom host.

      The proper course of action was to wait until the chair had finished his point (perhaps raise a virtual hand) and then provide a rebuttal. Local government t is a fundamental take part of our democracy. You don’t just mute people because you don’t like what they have to say. Especially given that he was right (in asking her not to interrupt her)

  35. “Weaver did not appear to have the formal power to exclude the disruptive councillors – but, given that this exclusion was then accepted by the new chair, and that the disruption was plain, that does not seem to practically matter.”

    This is fundamentally in error. The new chair only became the new chair because of the ultra vires exclusion of the old chair by Weaver. It does not retrospectively validate that exclusion. Of course, that does re-introduce the problem which you touched on – namely what to do about a disruptive chair – but that is still a separate issue. Nothing in the orders seems to give anyone else the right to mount a coup in those circumstances – and certainly not Weaver.

  36. Am concerned with regard to the Zoomed meeting being posted online. Meetings are open to the public..yes…public are allowed time to speak…yes…meetings are minuted for future reference…yes. But public usually means local….not worldwide online. If I were in one of those meetings…as a councillor….my expectation would be that the interest shown would relate roughly to the size of the population represented. I would not want the exposure which comes with “online” and particularly “VIRAL”….and I say exposure…not scrutiny. I would hope my behaviour and adherence to the guidance rules…standing orders etc ….would be exemplary. The Rule of Law is after all the Essence of Democracy. But I would not want to be exposed to all and sundry as a target for nonsense or nastiness especially when..as likely…there had not been a full examination of context and previous difficulties…as seems the case with This Parish Council.

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