Swaffham councillor tells of Westminster attack horror as communities honour the dead

The scene outside the Houses of Parliament where an incident is unfolding, March 22 2107. See National News story NNCOMMONS; Police have reportedly shot a knifeman who stabbed an officer. The House of Parliament has been locked down after the as two men are being treated inside the grounds. Pictures from the scene appear to show a car crashed into railings outside the building just before 3pm. George Eaton tweeted: "Police have just shot a man who was attacking officers at parliament's entrance."
The scene outside the Houses of Parliament where an incident is unfolding, March 22 2107. See National News story NNCOMMONS; Police have reportedly shot a knifeman who stabbed an officer. The House of Parliament has been locked down after the as two men are being treated inside the grounds. Pictures from the scene appear to show a car crashed into railings outside the building just before 3pm. George Eaton tweeted: "Police have just shot a man who was attacking officers at parliament's entrance."

A district councillor says he feels “incredibly lucky” after being caught up in the aftermath of yesterday’s terrorist attack on Parliament.

Swaffham representative Ian Sherwood spent several hours in lockdown inside Westminster, along with hundreds of others, following the atrocity.

Four people, including a police officer, PC Keith Palmer, and the attacker himself, were killed in the incident, while dozens more were injured.

But he said he felt fortunate that he had not been closer to the horror.

He said today: “I don’t like the description, but I feel incredibly lucky.

“A lot of people were injured. Four people have died. I wasn’t close to it.

“It was close enough to feel very concerned but I’m lucky I wasn’t directly involved and nearer the scene.”

Mr Sherwood, a Breckland councillor, had been attending a meeting in Portcullis House with MEP Vicky Ford, for whom he works, when the attack started.

He said the first he knew of what was going on was when he received a text message from a colleague in Brussels asking if they were safe.

He said: “I went to the main window, which overlooks the Thames, and could see a number of police cars and ambulances. There were numerous people running in all directions.”

Shortly afterwards, a member of House of Commons security staff instructed them to leave the area. As they did so, they heard a shout from a member of security personnel to run.

Mr Sherwood said that, while the estate was in lockdown, he and other people inside were told to move around by armed officers as they searched the site.

Although they were able to use their mobile phones, which enabled them to find out more about what was going on, he said they were told to keep them on silent mode.

He added that at one point, they were also told to keep away from windows.

But he said it was also clear the security forces were working to a clearly developed and rehearsed plan for dealing with such an attack.

Mr Sherwood said that, as the time passed, the people trapped inside the building, which included staff, members’ workers, visitors and journalists, were divided into smaller groups before they were eventually allowed to leave.

He estimated they were allowed out around four hours after the attack happened, when they were escorted out by a member of staff.

He said: “We were walking through streets that were a bit like a ghost town.”

Earlier today, communities in West Norfolk joined the tributes to the victims of the attack.

The borough council joined MPs, police forces and other public bodies across the country in observing a minute’s silence for the victims at 9.33am.

Flags were also flown at half-mast on all council buildings.

And the authority announced the colours of the Union flag would be projected onto the town hall tonight to honour the victims.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said: “My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the families of the victims and we are also thinking of those people who are hopefully recovering from very serious injuries.

“We do need to keep this in perspective because it does appear to be a ‘lone wolf’ attack and furthermore, the bravery and professionalism of our Parliamentary Security prevented the terrorist from getting any further into the Palace precincts.”

“It is obviously important that life in London and in Parliament goes on and that evil and terrorism is never allowed to prevail in our democratic and free society.”

Sir Henry also described it as “bad luck” that the attack had happened when gates were open for a vote to take place.