Mayor quits meeting in protest at comments on disabled access made by the deputy mayor

THE Mayor of Wisbech walked out of a planning committee last night after a row broke out over comments made by his deputy.

Councillor Nick Meekins said today he left after his deputy, Councillor Jonathan Farmer, argued loudly against a disabled access ramp for a bank.

Cllr Meekins said: “It was more about how things were said rather than what was said. I felt I didn’t want to stay in there.”

Councillor Samantha Hoy ended the meeting early following the heated debate.

The controversy broke out after Cllr Farmer led opposition to a planning application by Santander to create a ramp at 46 Market Place to provide disabled access.

Cllr Farmer said today that the mayor was not objecting to what he was saying but to the manner in which he was saying it.

“What he was objecting to was me shouting,” said Cllr Farmer. “The problem is when I start to get the impression people aren’t listening to me I start to raise my voice.”

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Cllr Farmer added: “The gist of my argument was the disabled ramp is proposed for outside of the bank and I am against them because they should be putting them inside. “Banks are simply doing this to save money. Even a mild change in the height of pavements can cause people to fall over.

“They are not necessary, in my view, and should be internal and not external, particularly in a conservation area.”

On one occasion, said Cllr Farmer, he fell on a ramp and smashed his mobile phone.

Cllr Farmer said he had apologised to the mayor for shouting and both remained good friends.

“We’re both masons, in fact I proposed him into masonry,” he said. “It was simply a case of a couple of mates having a tiff.”

Councillor Dave Patrick said the deputy mayor had described the ramp as “bloody dangerous.

“Cllr Farmer was ranting on about this application and insults were hurled. I’m just glad there wasn’t any member of the public there to see it. It was a disgrace.

“The meeting was a debacle and with an election coming up you just wonder what on earth they’re all playing at.”

Deputy town clerk Susanah Farmer, the wife of Cllr Farmer, was officiating at the meeting and confirmed the chairman closed the meeting early.

“It was a very heated debate at one point and the chairman called a break,” she said. “On returning to the meeting there were not enough councillors left to continue and so the chairman closed the meeting.”

Cllr Farmer admitted he muttered the word “pillock” under his breath as the mayor left but this “was more a comment on him leaving rather than anything else.”

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