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Police called and meeting evacuated in night of chaos at town council

PUBLISHED: 08:02 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:33 18 February 2020

Police at an Attleborough Town Council meeting. Photo: Bethany Wales

Police at an Attleborough Town Council meeting. Photo: Bethany Wales

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Police were called to a chaotic council meeting after members of the public refused to leave, in a night which also saw the mayor storm out and the building evacuated over fire fears.

People volunteered to be arrested at an Attleborough Town Council meeting. Photo: Bethany WalesPeople volunteered to be arrested at an Attleborough Town Council meeting. Photo: Bethany Wales

More than 50 people attended an extraordinary meeting of Attleborough Town Council on Monday, as councillors warred over a proposal to remove two of its elected members - Taila Taylor and Edward Tyrer - from positions within the council.

Eight other councillors had signed a motion supporting the move, though the meeting's agenda did not make it clear which positions they would be removed from.

Less than an hour in to the debate, Tony Crouch, town mayor, stormed out of the room to chants of "out" from angry onlookers.

His departure came after councillor Taila Taylor, 25, accused the council of "neglecting its duty to the town" in relation to the motion.

The discussion had been due to be held in private, but members of the public refused to leave the room, arguing there was no justification for excluding them.

But the council said the matters being discussed related to accusations which could not be heard in public due to confidentiality rules.

Attendees refused to leave, however, and police officers entered the room.

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But, in a show of defiance, several people volunteered to be arrested, and the crowd remained in place.

After a proposal to adjourn the meeting was voted down by eight votes to seven, Ms Taylor told the room she was "incredibly upset", and accused her colleagues of failing to approach the meeting with open minds, as they are told to.

Vera Dale, the former mayor of Attleborough and a serving councillor, put forward a second proposal to adjourn the meeting, which was approved unanimously.

She said: "I am heartbroken that the council is in this state. We are never going to move forward unless the council manages to unite for the sake of the town."

She moved to reassure the public that the follow-up meeting would not be held behind closed doors.

Shortly after her speech, police evacuated the building as a strong smell of burning entered the room.

An officer said she did not know whether a fire had started but that for safety reasons, everyone had to evacuate.

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