Call for councillors to be ‘executed’ applauded at community meeting

More than 140 people attended Bowhouse Community Centre in Falkirk to discuss controversial 20 minute neighbourhood plans.

Call for Falkirk councillors to be ‘executed’ applauded at community centre meeting Getty Images

A call for all councillors to be ‘executed’ was greeted with applause at a public meeting held to discuss controversial 20 minute neighbourhood plans in Falkirk.

More than 140 people attended Bowhouse Community Centre on Friday evening for the event, which had been billed as “full and frank discussion” of the council’s strategy to reduce private car usage.

But things became so heated that a group who had actively promoted the evening withdrew their support for the organisers in disgust.

During the event, councillors were also accused of “genocide” for allowing the introduction of 5G masts – despite the fact that the decision was not made by local members.

Falkirk District Action Group (FDAG) founder member Sharron McKean said she was so shocked by the behaviour at the meeting that her group has withdrawn support from Falkirk Unbound.

She said: “I wouldn’t call it a meeting – it was a protest. I was absolutely disgusted at the way the councillors were treated – they were thrown to the wolves.”

Sharron said FDAG would continue to seek answers around 20-minute neighbourhoods and campaign on other issues but they will no longer work with Falkirk Unbound.

Labour councillor Siobhan Paterson and Conservative James Bundy accepted the invitation to attend as they were keen to hear people’s views.

But cllr Paterson said she was surprised when she was shouted down and called a “fascist” for her views.

After the meeting, cllr Paterson said she was “disappointed and shocked” at how hostile the event had been.

She said: “There absolutely is an appetite to know more about 20-minute neighbourhoods because there are still a lot of unknowns.

“I was optimistic about the meeting but disappointed with how things went and at the level of aggression that went unchallenged.”

She added: “Given what happened to Jo Cox and David Amess [MPs who were killed while carrying out public duties] threats of violence are not acceptable.

“They are real examples of the dangers of that kind of rhetoric. It shouldn’t be taken lightly – it should be challenged.”

Councillor Bundy said: “When the active travel strategy was being discussed by council, I raised concerns about the council adopting anti-car rhetoric and I stand by that.

“But the conduct of the meeting on Friday is not a way to convince people that cars still have a part to play in Falkirk’s future.”

One of the organisers was Mark Tunnicliff, who used the meeting to promote his own political party, the Divergent Party.

After the meeting, he apologised to the two councillors for the remarks made.

Mr Tunnicliff said: “Unfortunately, this wasn’t the open forum to hear all views we intended it to be, and it certainly wasn’t any of the organisers intention or I believe our fault that two or three of those that attended simply couldn’t seem to control what they said or the way they came across.

“Two comments in the two-hour long discussion were in particular uncalled for and not something event organisers either expected or condoned.

“However, to suggest that such comments got loud applause is inaccurate.

“It is also inaccurate that the councillors weren’t allowed to speak. Each had opening statements and conversed throughout the event.”

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