A dramatic council meeting where the clerk ejected the chair and vice-chair has gone viral.

But no, it isn't Andover Town Council that has been making headlines this week but Handforth Parish Council in Cheshire.

Footage of their planning meeting held on Zoom on December 10 has gone viral with thousands of viewers stunned by dramatic arguments. 

In the video, Jackie Weaver sent the chairman to the waiting room after saying she had "no authority" and declaring himself the town clerk. He was followed in short order by the deputy chairman, who shouted: "Read the standing orders - read them and understand them!"

Of course, in Andover, we’re no stranger to dramatic council meetings, with Andover Town Council having got into some similar situations since its formation in 2010.

Whether that’s been over votes of no confidence, resignations or co-options, there have been plenty of chaotic meetings over the years.

We took a look back at some of the biggest meeting incidents during that time:

‘Gavel grabbing’ and walkouts

Back in January 2020, when meetings of the town council were held in person, an incident occurred over the chairman’s gavel during a ‘tense’ session.

As deputy mayor, Councillor Lauren Banville had been chairing the meeting until the arrival of Cllr Richard Rowles, who then took control of the agenda. Following the discussion of staffing structure by the council, raised voices saw Cllr Banville reach for the chairman’s gavel, only to have it “ripped” from her hands by the mayor.

At the time, said: “I was moving our bits around on the table and went to grab the gavel and he completely ripped it out of my hands and said, ‘don’t grab that’.”

“I just won’t stand for that,” she continued. “Men should not speak to women in that way”.

Both Cllr Banville and Cllr Michael James left the meeting following the incident.

Cllr Rowles denied grabbing Cllr Banville’s hand, saying he had moved to retrieve the gavel since he, as chairman of the meeting, was the only one permitted to use it.

He said: “She shouldn’t have taken the gavel and all I did was take the other end of the gavel and took it back. But it’s totally wrong for anyone else in the meeting to attempt to use the chairman’s gavel.”

Exclusion from pitches

A co-option is meant to be a time to show off the best aspects of an organisation, but the co-option of Cllrs Nicholas Asamoah and Jason Sangster was overshadowed when the press and public were excluded from hearing their pitches.

Generally, the public are invited to hear the pitches of new councillors, but councillors took a vote to exclude them from this, instead placing them into a breakout room.

The decision was controversial, with borough Cllr Nick Matthews saying that the decision “goes against everything that councils are meant to stand for.”

He said: “I think it’s a disgrace. I’m genuinely stunned. There’s no justification for that and I think it’s disgusting”.

Cllr Banville, meanwhile, told the Advertiser that the decision left “a bad taste”.

At the time, the council’s deputy clerk, Tor Warburton, said that while the council would have allowed the public to view the pitches in a physical meeting, “there is no way that we can see whether you are communicating with the other candidates whilst you are remote. Therefore, they have voted against the public being present.”

Cllr Rowles, meanwhile, said that the decision “wasn’t an attempt to hide anything, it was just a procedural thing as we’ve never done it on Zoom before.”


Some of the most heated exchanges in the council came on November 6 2020, when the council met to begin the process of investigating grievances made against it regarding the behaviour of councillors.

The extraordinary general meeting saw a motion to replace Cllr Rowles with his deputy by Cllrs Rebecca Meyer and Christopher Ecclestone denied repeatedly by the mayor, who said they were “out of order” and conducting a “deliberate attempt to derail the meeting”.

After appointing Tracy Predeth as locum proper officer, and discussions of a grievance panel had begun, Cllrs Ecclestone and Meyer again moved a motion, this time to close the meeting “on the basis that there is no known grievance".

Cllr Rowles denied the motion, saying that such a step would put the council “in legal jeopardy”, though Cllr Meyer disagreed, saying that the public should “not believe in democracy” at the council after the denial.

Vote of no confidence

Following the grievance panel, another heated meeting saw councillors vote on a motion of no confidence made in Cllr Rowles.

Cllr Ecclestone, opening debate, said that the mayor had “broken the town council system and he needs to go,” while Cllr Meyer said his behaviour was “an omnishambles of epic proportions.”

In response to the “onslaught,” Cllr Rowles claimed that he had been subject to “constant harassment” and “lies” over the past 18 months, saying the meeting was “an abhorrent waste of taxpayers money.”

At the vote, Cllrs Luigi Gregori and Robin Hughes refused to cast a vote on the motion, with Cllr Hughes saying Andover “has suffered” from the council’s behaviour.

Exclusion from EGM

In January, another EGM was called, this time to discuss a potential judicial review to be made against Andover Town Council.

Cllr Ecclestone took to social media following he and other members of the Andover Independents Party being excluded from the discussion by Cllr Rowles.

He said: “Shambolic EGM meeting with Cllr Rowles excluding four of the five AIP councillors. I was excluded when I asked if the insurance cover was still good if the council was found to have not followed correct procedures.

“It's inevitable that council will NOT be covered by whatever policy it has due to its many procedural failures since late October.

Meyer Complaint

In a dispute during the setting of the council’s precept last week, Cllr Rowles threatened to expel Cllr Meyer from the meeting for talking over other councillors.

A proposal for the precept and budget brought forward by Cllr Hughes was being discussed, and Cllr Meyer said that the council should be considering another proposal, talking over the mayor.

Cllr Rowles said: “If you don’t stop interrupting me I’m going to eject you from the meeting.

“You are being unreasonable because you are not letting me answer your question.”

Cllr Meyer was then out of the meeting for some time, with it unclear whether she had been ejected.

“She’s been excluded,” said Cllr Ecclestone. “We know how that feels.”

Cllr Rowles then confirmed with the town clerk that he was not in charge of the Zoom call and ejecting members from meetings.

Cllr Meyer subsequently rejoined during a vote on extending the meeting. She asked how long staff had been working “because this was in their grievance.”

She was rebuked for breaching confidentiality by locum clerk Tracey Predeth, who said: “Cllr Meyer, that is confidential information that you’re disclosing here, can you stop mentioning the grievances please?”

Cllr Meyer said that she was concerned for staff welfare, saying that she didn’t want them “to have another grievance.”

Cllr Gregori then said he wanted to make a formal complaint about Cllr Meyer, saying: “She keeps talking about the staff but keeps talking over other councillors. If she wants to leave the meeting, can she please do so.”

Cllr Meyer then resolved to stay in the meeting, and record when other councillors were talking over each other, and she read out her findings towards the end of the meeting.