Jackie Weaver hopes for better behaviour as Handforth Parish Council returns

Edd Dracott
·3-min read

One of the stars of a council meeting which became an internet sensation after descending into chaos has said she is hoping for better behaviour as it meets for the first time in two months on Wednesday evening.

Meeting co-ordinator Jackie Weaver shot to viral stardom last month due to footage of her booting Handforth Parish Council members who had lost their cool off of a Zoom call on December 10.

The council met for the first time since the fiery episode, at 7pm on Wednesday, but Ms Weaver said she would not be attending as the council’s usual clerk has returned.

“I would have been perfectly happy to have been involved this evening but I don’t think it’s right for Handforth,” Ms Weaver told the PA news agency.

“Now the clerk is back it’s absolutely right and proper they’ve taken their proper place, which they’re perfectly competent to do.

“I’m really hopeful that the council will have the kind of productive meeting that we would hope for at a local council.

Watch: Jackie Weaver surprised at fame after parish council meeting goes viral

“I hope it will be the turning of a new leaf, but I fear the only thing that will resolve the tensions in Handforth is when they ultimately have an election in May, when the seat that is currently vacant is up for election.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Cheshire East Council mayor Barry Burkhill, an independent councillor for Handforth, faced a vote of no-confidence over his role in the viral meeting, which has been referred to Cheshire East Council’s Standards Committee.

The motion, proposed by Cheshire East Conservative councillor Liz Wardlaw, claims Mr Burkhill “made no attempt to intervene as it became clear participants in that meeting were being bullied”.

Chaotic council meeting goes viral
The council meeting was viewed by millions (Handforth Parish Council/PA)

Asked for her thoughts on the no-confidence vote, Ms Weaver said: “I can’t help but have some empathy for somebody in that situation because it must be so difficult to experience the censure of so many of your colleagues.

“However, Cheshire East policy, its whole ethos over the last five years, has been anti-bullying… and here we have councillor Burkhill sitting and watching it play out in front of him and not lifting a finger.

“At the end of the day, what’s sadly missing from all of this is respect.

“When I turned up to support a meeting of Handforth Parish Council it was done at the request of the people holding the meeting – I had every authority to be there and was offered no respect.”

Ms Weaver became an overnight internet sensation for her calm handling of December’s meeting, which saw chairman Brian Tolver kicked off the call twice, including in the council’s extraordinary meeting held later in the evening.

Following Mr Tolver’s eviction, vice-chairman Aled Brewerton, joined by an older unnamed man, proceeded to yell at Ms Weaver to “read the standing orders”.

When fellow councillor Susan Moore called for civility, the meeting erupted into semi-hysterical laughter and Mr Brewerton and Mr Burkhill were also removed.