Things turned ugly at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council on Wednesday, as microphones picked up muttered insults directed at 2 councillors.
At a virtual meeting of the full council, proceedings were halted twice as it was determined who said what.
Firstly, while voting on whether to freeze councillors allowances, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, the representative for Cowes Medina, was called a ‘coward’ for abstaining the vote. A voice could be heard calling her a ‘coward’ and chair of the meeting, Cllr George Cameron, asked whether anyone would like to ‘own up’ to the insult, after Cllr Peacey-Wilcox called it to his attention.
Cllr Cameron said:
“We cannot have councillors insulting others. Not while this meeting is happening and not while I am chairing it.”
Cllr John Hobart, ward representative for Carisbrooke and Gunville, who has recently stepped down from his position on the council’s cabinet, put his hands up and apologised for the ‘uncalled for’ comment. He said:
“I do apologise. I was muttering under my breath and did not realise I was unmuted” and warned other councillors from doing the same.
Cllr Peacey-Wilcox said she was deeply hurt and offended by the comment.
Later in the meeting, while introducing her motion to put the wellbeing of residents at the heart of planning and design of public spaces, Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, Newport Central representative, was told to ‘shut up’.
Proceedings continued, as leader of the council, Cllr Dave Stewart, amended her motion and the vote was about to begin before Cllr Jones-Evans was able to draw it to the attention of the chair. She said:
“Who told me to shut up? I clearly heard it.”
Neither Cllrs Stewart nor Cameron said they heard the remark and as the meeting was running out of time Cllr Cameron moved on.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Jones-Evans said she had emailed the chief executive, John Metcalfe and Cllr Cameron about the incident to follow it up.
An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said no complaint into a councillor’s conduct had been made from the meeting and it is in the council’s constitution that the meeting end after 4 hours so the chairman was obliged to stop when he did.