Police were asked to attend a stormy council meeting after it was hijacked by a group angry at the authority declaring a "climate emergency"... and "grandads in bondage gear".

The acting clerk at Thetford Town Council's chambers made a 999 call because councillors were unable to restore order.

The protestors, from a group called Thetford Council Watch, took over a part of the meeting dedicated to questions from the public and would not stop when asked to by the chairman.

They were angry at the council's recent decision to declare a "climate emergency" and commit £30,000 to spend tackling it, arguing there are better ways to spend the money in the town.

The discussions became heated - one woman called the council a "panel of useless idiots" - as the group asked more and more questions.

But these took a bizarre turn after another member of the group changed the subject and asked what councillors thought of children being exposed to "grandads in bondage gear" in bookshops and libraries.



Eastern Daily Press: A meeting of Thetford Council WatchA meeting of Thetford Council Watch (Image: LSB Film Productions)

The group were previously known as the Thetford Sovereign Council and before that the Thomas Paine Independents, after the town's most famous son whose writings influenced the American Revolution and the Enlightenment.

The campaign group, some of whose members previously sat as councillors, regularly attend council meetings to raise topics such as sex education in schools, transgender issues and the use of vaccines. 

The group say they are holding authority to account in the name of "freedom and common sense", and go to the meetings to express their views and scrutinise councillors.

Kris Brooks, a member of the group, stood down from the council in February. 

In his resignation letter, he said: "Given my commitment to exposing corruption, I find it increasingly incongruous to sit at the same table as part of the predicament.

"This decision has not been made lightly, and I trust that it aligns with my principles and convictions."

Mr Brooks records the group's confrontations with the council and uploads these to his YouTube channel.



Eastern Daily Press: A member of the public confronts the council about their climate planA member of the public confronts the council about their climate plan (Image: LSB Film Productions)

Discussions at the recent meeting, in April, became particularly heated after members of the group challenged councillors on their decision to declare a "climate emergency".

Thetford Town Council had announced in February that it would be investing up to £30,000 to mitigate the impacts of climate change locally.

One member of Thetford Council Watch told last month's meeting: "What I find really, really disgusting is that you are going to take this money from the people of Thetford to put towards this climate thing.

"The people in this town can't afford to feed their kids and you're going to take thousands of pounds away."

The speech was met with shouts of agreement from the public gallery and one woman branded councillors a "panel of useless idiots".



Stuart Wright, who was chairing the meeting, tried to declare the end of the public speaking section, but another member of Thetford Council Watch began a speech about the "war on children".

He went on to ask councillor Terry Jermy, a Labour councillor, what he thought about the teaching of "bedroom-department activities" to young children in schools. 

Mr Jermy, who will stand against Liz Truss in South West Norfolk at the next general election, said: "Sex education is not something that falls within my powers as councillor and is not something that is discussed at any meetings I attend.

"It is not something that I could influence."

Members of the public continued to shout over Mr Jermy, leading the chairman to demand whether they "wanted an answer or not".

Eastern Daily Press: Councillor Terry JermyCouncillor Terry Jermy (Image: Submitted)

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Mr Jermy continued: "I'm happy to give my personal view. Generally speaking, I think children are exposed to inappropriate material at a much younger age now, particularly with the internet and social media not being regulated properly.

"I believe that parents still have a right to request that their child does not take part in sex education."

The member of the public went on to ask what councillors thought of children being exposed to "grandads in bondage gear for nought to four year olds" in bookshops and libraries.

He is thought to be referring to a book called Grandad's Pride, which was withdrawn by a Hull nursery school after parents complained about its portrayal of men in "leather fetish gear".

Eastern Daily Press: The image in Grandad's Pride, a book about a grandad and his memories of attending pride marchesThe image in Grandad's Pride, a book about a grandad and his memories of attending pride marches (Image: Harry Woodgate)

This question was followed by another attempt to bring an end to the public speaking. 

"What exactly do you do? We should stop paying your wages!" one woman told the councillors.

Another member of the public shouted at the members: "It's pointless you f*****g being here!"



Alan Yorke, the acting clerk, called the police at 7.35pm after Mr Wright's repeated attempts to bring an end to the public speaking section failed to bring order to the meeting, which had begun at 7pm.

The meeting was suspended for nearly an hour while councillors waited for the room to clear.

In the end, police did not attend, citing operational reasons, and the group left, allowing the meeting to resume.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Constabulary said the force had been in contact with the council before and after the meeting to discuss the activities of the group.

She added: ‘We did not attend for operational reasons but have been in contact with councillors prior to, and since this meeting due to concerns raised.

"At present, no criminal offences have been disclosed and guidance around security has been given."

Jane James, a county councillor for Thetford who was at the meeting, said: "Sometimes this group's passion outweighs their message. They think that he who shouts loudest should be heard.

"The frustrating part for other residents is that they don't get a chance to ask questions - that's the worst part."