Search

‘Personal’ and ‘poisonous’ - councillors condemn political climate amid town council row

PUBLISHED: 15:15 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 18:46 21 February 2020

Parish councillors Ian Sherwood and Roger Atterwill have given their thoughts on the current climate in local politics. Picture: Archant/Breckland Council

Parish councillors Ian Sherwood and Roger Atterwill have given their thoughts on the current climate in local politics. Picture: Archant/Breckland Council

Archant/Breckland Council

Two long-serving councillors say local government has become “personal” and “poisonous” after a town council became embroiled in a divisive row.

Members of the public refused to leave an Attleborough Town Council meeting which had barred the public and press. Picture: ArchantMembers of the public refused to leave an Attleborough Town Council meeting which had barred the public and press. Picture: Archant

Attleborough Town Council is this week in turmoil following a meeting on Monday evening which saw 50 protestors refuse to leave.

Members had been due to privately discuss a motion calling for Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer to be removed over accusations of bullying made by council staff.

Conservative party agent, Ian Sherwood, says divisive issues within parish councils Conservative party agent, Ian Sherwood, says divisive issues within parish councils "happen too regularly". Picture: Breckland Council

Ms Taylor "categorically denies" the allegations, while Mr Tyrer has declined to comment.

But with police forced to step in and the council chamber evacuated, the meeting was adjourned to a later date.

Protestors at an Attleborough Town Council meeting which was due to be held in private. Picture: SubmittedProtestors at an Attleborough Town Council meeting which was due to be held in private. Picture: Submitted

As a petition calls for the entire council to resign, Conservative party agent, Ian Sherwood, said the saga is representative of an unsavoury political climate.

"My grandfather was a Labour councillor, but I learned a lot from him and we never fell out," said Mr Sherwood. "He used to say 'have your debate in the chamber, but when you walk away you should be able to shake their hand.'

"We seem to have lost the ability in this country to have a reasoned discussion. 99pc of parish councils operate without issues, but unfortunately they happen too regularly."

You may also want to watch:

READ MORE: Councillor calls on council to resign following meeting chaos

Roger Atterwill, who has been involved in local government for more than 15 years, agrees very few councils fall into such disarray.

Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman, Roger Atterwill, is concerned about the effect of Swanton Morley Parish Council chairman, Roger Atterwill, is concerned about the effect of "poisonous" social media on local politics. Picture: Breckland Council

"I don't think the Attleborough situation is the norm," he added. "It's perfectly fine to have robust debates.

"Some parish councils are quite gentle, where as others try to be at the forefront of change. Both are acceptable."

Police were forced to step in when protestors refused an Attleborough Town Council meeting. Picture: ArchantPolice were forced to step in when protestors refused an Attleborough Town Council meeting. Picture: Archant

But Mr Atterwill, chairman of Swanton Morley Parish Council, believes the emergence of social media means local politics is a more hostile environment.

"I started off before social media and it has certainly become more poisonous," he said. "There's no problem with increased accessibility, but people say things they wouldn't have the gall to say in person.

Members of the public refused to leave an Attleborough Town Council meeting which had barred the public and press. Picture: ArchantMembers of the public refused to leave an Attleborough Town Council meeting which had barred the public and press. Picture: Archant

"I use the old adage: you can disagree without being disagreeable."

READ MORE: 'Our town is a laughing stock' - Town hits out at council following 'shambles' of a meeting

Mr Sherwood added: "Last year's local election was the first time in 20 years I've had candidates say they could not face standing due to potentially being pilloried on social media.

"Councillors just want to represent their communities, but they are easy targets these days."


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press