Uproar at town council meeting

Heated scenes marked the first meeting of Bury St Edmunds Town Council since the elections.

Police stood guard at the tense encounter as Roy Bebbington, founder of the Abolish Bury Town Council Party (ABC), which swept to power in the May elections, was voted in as town mayor before immediately rejecting the title at Wednesday night's meeting.

The leader then caused shouts of dismay as he announced radical new proposals, including sub-letting the council offices in Guildhall Street, Bury, and scrapping the Allotments Working Group. He also recommended holding just four council meetings a year.

Police officers appealed for calm in the public gallery as members were heckled, while disgusted ex-councillor Alan Turner and outgoing town mayor Beccy Hopfensperger left the room.

Linda Sherer, town clerk, said: "With respect, Mr Chairman, you can't do this.

"It is dictatorial in the extreme.

"I have never seen anything like this in my entire life."

Cllr Bebbington, who demanded to be known as chairman, was thwarted in his attempts to shut the council down immediately as his drastic call was not listed on the agenda. It has been postponed until the next council meeting on Monday, June 11.

An outraged councillor ripped up the proposals and demanded a right to speak.

Clive Springett, Conservative ward member for Moreton Hall, said: "This is absolutely pointless – this meeting is illegal. It is disgraceful.

"I was elected to represent the people who voted for me and I feel I am not being allowed to do that."

Despite the ABC party's hopes of dismantling the town council, Mr Bebbington was forced to postpone many of his aims for a later meeting.

He said: "Our aim is to close the town council down. We want to start that as soon as possible and show intent."