Fareham Borough Council leader condemns chaotic scenes at Portsmouth debate

Confetti launched at Tuesday's council meeting
Confetti launched at Tuesday's council meeting
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THE leader of Fareham Borough Council has condemned the chaos that broke out at a debate in Portsmouth.

Councillor Sean Woodward was sitting in the public gallery when he heard what he says sounded like ‘gunshots’ as protests over cuts to a domestic abuse support service spilled into the chamber.

I am all for protest, but if it sounds like firearms being shot in a meeting, then its absolutely horrifying.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council

A protestor used a metal device to fire confetti into the room as council leader Donna Jones was about to address concerns over proposals to take £130,000 out of the domestic abuse budget. A banner saying ‘Donna cuts, we bleed’ was displayed over the public gallery.

Cllr Woodward said it was his first time at a city full council meeting and he was ‘horrified’ by what transpired during the lengthy debate, which dragged out over nine hours.

A 25-year-old woman from Enfield, North London, being arrested for letting off the device from the public gallery.

Police say she has since received a fine and no further action has been taken.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘It sounded like a firearm was being set off. The situation was absolutely unacceptable.

‘From a democratic perspective, how on earth can councillors carry out their functions with that sort of thing going on? I’m all for protest, but if it sounds like firearms, then it’s absolutely horrifying.

‘I heard what sounded like gunshots going off above my head.’

Cllr Woodward said he was also disappointed with the conduct of some councillors, saying it was ‘unbelievable’ the way councillors addressed each other during the meeting, which saw plans approved to increase council tax by 3.99 per cent and cut £11m from the budget.

As reported, Cllr Jones said she has ‘never been so frightened and targeted’ and said the incident was part of a prolonged ‘systematic attack’ on her.

Joan Baker wrote on The News website: ‘I’m 73 and had the life frightened out of me at the meeting.

‘I thought someone had been shot when the firecrackers went off. Whether they’re party poppers or pyrotechnics, they were loud bangs and far from peaceful protest.’