UK’s ‘most fragile council’ blasted after it makes one pathetic change

A council has been criticised for being ‘too fragile’ after it introduced ‘red cards’ for members who feel too anxious to stay in a meeting.

The system will see councillors hold up a name card to indicate they wish to leave the meeting if they are experiencing high levels of anxiety.

They will then have the opportunity to go to another room where they will be provided with water and advice on grounding techniques.

Wymondham Town Council, in Norfolk, started the scheme after councillor Tony Holden stepped down with a 45 second resignation speech in which he accused fellow members of “achieving nothing”.

Joe Barrett, a Green councillor, who suffers from PTSD, said the speech triggered a “psychiatric emergency” which meant he had to leave the meeting for 20 minutes.

In a statement posted to Facebook, he said that Mr Holden, the former mayor, had not meant to cause any flashbacks but rules were needed.

He explained: “[The cards] offer an option for councillors to remove themselves from meetings if they experience an emergency and need to take a break, but without having to speak or interrupt the meeting. Simply raise a card and go.

“The basis of this is rooted in my understanding of anxiety, stress and PTSD, which is based on a mix of my own experience of these, along with a lot of research over the years.”

Mr Barrett has now proposed the new system which was unanimously approved by members this week.

Initially it was suggested that red cards should be used, but other councillors decided they should instead raise their name cards instead due to “negative connotations”.

The new measures have been criticised, including by Mr Holden, who described his former colleagues as “fragile” and said that democracy would suffer as a result.

He said: “The council isn’t fit for purpose. They’re fragile and have lost their way. This is so unnecessary.

“I’m being used as a scapegoat. People can walk out of a meeting any time that they want to, but if you’re not in a meeting then you’re not representing your community – democracy has just gone out of the window.”

Mr Holden’s speech in February was cut off after only 45 seconds by chairwoman Suzanne Nuri-Nixon.

Mr Holden previously apologised to Mr Barrett for any distress caused.

The scheme was defended by fellow councillors.

Cllr David Roberts said: “I too have diagnosed severe traumatic PTSD as well as MS.

“Me personally this not just about mental health but equality, what happens or is said to disabled councillors off camera by councillors can be worse.

“There is an inherent lack of equality knowledge and what is seen and heard from Westminster is just a prevalent at other levels of political spectrum.”

But locals in the town criticised the move.

One said: “Get a grip. You take on the role.”

Another added: “So, councillors can leave the room to be provided with water, surely, they already have water in the chamber, and to receive advice on grounding techniques.

“Consequently, can we assume some sort of expert is being paid by us the tax-payer to sit in this designated room on the off chance some poor fragile soul needs help?

“Anxiety is caused by one person only, that is the individual suffering from it, no-one else controls your thoughts but you.

“So I say, take some personal responsibility, get over yourself, change the way you decide to think about someone‚Äôs resignation speech and get on with the job we as tax-payers pay you to do.

“If this is too much for you, then step down, no-one is forcing anyone to be a councillor.”

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