Four reactions to that Handforth Parish Council video

My four reactions to the Handforth Parish Council events:

  1. Laughter.
  2. More laughter triggered by thinking of similarities with some meetings I’ve been in.
  3. Pause for thought, because while very funny, it’s also a group of rude men bullying a woman. Funny, not funny.
  4. VOTE! Those people only get to behave the way they do because they got through a low-turnout election. (One ward was uncontested last time so this is also a reminder about why standing more candidates is a good thing.)

If you are wondering what the heck this is all about and why Jackie Weaver is famous, here’s the video that has gone viral:

For more on the legalities of what happened, see David Allen Green’s analysis.

A few other reactions:

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5 responses to “Four reactions to that Handforth Parish Council video”

  1. What is your view on whether Lib Dems (and other parties) should compete in Parish Council elections.

    I note that the Lib Dem candidate for Handforth West in 2019n came bottom of the poll behind six independents, including one of the apparent bad guys.

  2. It is apparent that the council’s Standing Orders are not adequate. The Clerk was out of order. She is not ‘the council’ as she said. There may have been tensions in this council but running it poorly makes it worse. We had a situation where the Clerk acted improperly =- despite being a leading member of the trade union for Clerks [it is not a professional body – they have no provision for removal of registration with them either!]. We could easily have got into a similarly tense situation, albeit without the shouting. We found the Model Standing Orders completely inadequate and having gained control from a maverick set of Independents and Tories we have rewritten them [despite Tory opposition and obfuscation]. It gives the opposition groups more authority although they did not acknowledge this and appear to be working well. It certainly would have prevented the row in East Cheshire over six months absence, and prevents the Clerk and Chair taking unilateral action, which was happening before we took over control. Things are now considerably better – and residents have commented on how things are improved across the town – although they do not know, and why should they, the mechanics behind it!

  3. as Chair of Pilning &Severn Beach Parish Council I was appalled. The Chair was all too ready to quote ‘the law’ but he failed at the start by not taking charge and formally opening the meeting. He should have been involved in appointing Jackie Weaver(or someone) to be clerk for the meeting.. (one wonders why the previous clerk walked). But then the YouTube vid was very much edited to pick out the worst snippets, so we didn’t see the context – but perhaps we don’t need to.
    Hopefully the District Council will now take charge. discipline the obvious culprits, and organise a full parish election for this May.

  4. At a parish council level the identification of members by party is not helpful. So it is not a good idea and the party should not encourage it.
    The nature of a local council is that it is local, and so should attract those people who care about the locality and want to serve the community(that by definition is probably going to be a liberal and hopefully a democrat too), but the party label can get in the way. The moment you introduce party labels then there is a tendency to then start representing the party, or having to ‘toe the party line’ when you should be speaking for the community.
    In Frome, Somerset, they had a history of being run by the parties, having internal conflicts and getting nothing done. Then a group of independents got to work and by brilliant election campaigning over a couple of terms, got rid of all the party people. The council is now a functioning creature of its community and going from strength to strength. (search ‘Flatpack Democracy’)
    I tend to think that candidates for District/County Councils are better representatives of their communities if they have been a parish/town councillor first. I would make it an absolute requirement to be a parliamentary candidate that you should have experience as a councillor(at any level) first – a good grounding in what your priorities should be.
    (I have served on Parish, District and Unitary Councils since 1987, and been a PPC five times).

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