Worthing councillor apologises to member of the public for ‘interruption’ during public questions

A Worthing councillor has today apologised to a member of the public following a meeting which was branded ‘appalling’ by both sides of the chamber.

Worthing councillor Sean McDonald
Worthing councillor Sean McDonald

At Worthing Borough Council’s full meeting on Wednesday (November 10), public question time did not go as planned.

Several members of the public attended the meeting to put pre-submitted questions to the council.

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In what has been called an ‘unnecessary exchange’ by new council leader Kevin Jenkins (Con, Gaisford), Sean McDonald (Con, Northbrook) responded by making accusations of online abuse against one member of the public.

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Accusations of ‘appalling’ behaviour in Worthing council chamber

Mr McDonald accused the person posing a question of mocking a by-election candidate for their accent.

According to Mr McDonald, the candidate’s ‘first language isn’t English’ and he said that mocking them for this would be ‘disgraceful’.

The member of the public denied the accusations during the meeting, saying: “I’m absolutely appalled, I wouldn’t abuse anyone and I certainly wouldn’t make a mockery of anyone in the process.”

She was asking about the actions taken following the resignation of former Conservative councillor Tim Wills.

He resigned last month after anti-racist campaign group HOPE not Hate said he allegedly sent messages to a Telegram chat associated with Patriotic Alternative.

There is an ongoing investigation to determine if Mr Wills breached the council’s code of conduct.

Council leader Kevin Jenkins said: “Behaviour of this type is not acceptable in our democratic process and after a discussion with him and allowing him time to reflect, councillor McDonald has today apologised to the member of the public for his interruption of her public question/s. 

“Democracy is the cradle of our political structures and whilst members may hold strong views or beliefs on certain matters, they should ensure that their passion and behaviour does not undermine the ability of others to ask questions.

“The events of Wednesday were unacceptable and must not be repeated by an party.”