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Downham Market Mayor releases statement after police called during meeting

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After the police were called to a West Norfolk council meeting last night, the mayor has released a statement.

Last night, a member of the public accused the town clerk Elaine Oliver of "bullying" as discussion began on the agenda.

Councillor Becky Hayes then said:"We are now calling the police" after voices were raised.

The Downham Town Council meeting last night CREDIT YouTube (49888637)
The Downham Town Council meeting last night CREDIT YouTube (49888637)

The member of the public was seen shouting even after they were informed the police had been called.

The individual was moved on, and no arrest was made.

As a result the meeting was suspended.

Mayor Jenny Groom said following the incident:"As Mayor of Downham Market Town Counci, with the support of my Deputy Mayor, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the events that took place at the Full Council meeting of the 6th. September 2021, which some of you may have witnessed during the live streaming.

What would not have been apparent was that the start of the meeting was delayed by the challenging behaviour of several members of the public who were making demands which we, according to our rules of conducting business, were unable to accommodate.

The challenging behaviour escalated during the early part of the agenda, when a deliberate attempt was made to destabilise and sabotage the business of our meeting. This occurred when one member of the public, under the guise of public questions, made a number of serious and inaccurate statements regarding the management of the Town Market, falsely accusing our Clerk of destroying said Market! He was joined during his tirade by another member of the public who entered the meeting, against the covid measures in place to keep everybody safe. She verbally attacked our Clerk and was both extremely aggressive and derogatory towards her.

This attack upon our Clerk and the smooth running of the Council Meeting was supported loudly by several members of the public who were in attendance.

Because of the aggressive nature of the attack the meeting not only had to be suspended, but the police were called to intervene.

Once the police arrived the Council was able to resume the meeting, although time restrictions meant that some important business had to be deferred.

Both the Deputy and I deplore the events which took place during this meeting. We wish to make it perfectly clear that the vicious allegations against our Clerk are completely without foundation. They bring the Town Council and our Clerk into disrepute but also, the Market itself! This is because the accusations made are without foundation; being promoted by those with a particular self-interest.

Both the Deputy Mayor and I can only apologise for the events which occurred. They do not reflect the hard work which is undertaken by our Clerk under the Council's instruction on a daily basis.

We are extremely fortunate, at such a difficult and challenging time to have in Downham Market a Clerk of such high calibre and integrity, who despite enormous pressure has worked tirelessly to promote the interests of the Council and Downham."

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