Calls for Extinction Rebellion to be left out of Portsmouth council decisions

CALLS for controversial group Extinction Rebellion to be kept out of politics in Portsmouth has sparked a row, with campaigners branding the move an ‘outrageous attack’.

XR Southsea member Selma Heimedinger at a London protest in September
XR Southsea member Selma Heimedinger at a London protest in September

A debate on whether to remove the local branch of Extinction Rebellion (XR) as a consultee on certain Portsmouth City Council matters including transport is expected to be heard at a full council meeting next week.

Proposer, Conservative Councillor Terry Norton, said he has put forward the motion following a ‘profoundly disrespectful’ protest by the national XR group at the cenotaph in London on Armistice Day last month.

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He said: ‘The actions of Extinction Rebellion at the cenotaph where profoundly disrespectful. It's a memorial for those who fought to preserve our freedoms.

‘For Extinction Rebellion to hijack this is totally unacceptable.

‘I think they (the Portsmouth members) should distance themselves from the criminal activity and antics of the national group

‘I think climate change is an important but I don't think they are going the right way about it.’

He also believed other interested parties were ‘unfairly’ excluded from council processes.

‘One of the issues in Portsmouth is that Extinction Rebellion is involved in planning meetings and transport, but the taxi trade and First Bus have no say,’ he added.

However, XR Southsea has hit back, stating XR had not ‘defaced’ the cenotaph in London as his motion suggests.

A spokeswoman for the group said: ‘What did happen on Armistice Day was a very respectful action, involving veteran Donald Bell, who toured Northern Ireland four times.

'Extinction Rebellion Southsea, a decentralised local group, strictly tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency.

'We suggest that Councillor Terry Norton acts in the same way, by telling the truth, rather than relying on right-wing media for their accusations made towards our non-violent organisation.

'It is democratically incorrect. It’s like excluding the whole of the Labour Party from conversation for something that a party member may or may not have done.'

A debate on the motion is set to be heard during a virtual full council meeting on Tuesday, December 8. Members of the public can livestream the meeting via the council website.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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