Mayor in 'stupid people' jibe row

FELIXSTOWE'S mayor was at the centre of a row today after being accused of calling protesters “stupid people”.Campaigners claimed Joan Sennington made the remark as she entered a controversial meeting to discuss potential sites for new homes in the area.

FELIXSTOWE'S mayor was at the centre of a row today after being accused of calling protesters “stupid people”.

Campaigners claimed Joan Sennington made the remark as she entered a controversial meeting to discuss potential sites for new homes in the area.

But Mrs Sennington, who chaired the meeting, said she had been referring to the protesters' behaviour - and was afraid of being manhandled by the huge numbers of people by the entrance.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the town council meeting at Walton Community Hall - far too many to get into the venue.

Police were called to keep the crowds under control and stop people bursting into the meeting once it was under way.

Rev David Miller, of High Road West, Felixstowe, accused the mayor of “disgraceful behaviour”.

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He called on her to apologise for her comments - as did other people at the meeting.

Campaigner Ken Ferriss said: “I want a personal apology and I have not had one yet - I will be writing to the mayor to ask for one. The comments she made were unbelievable.”

Mrs Sennington said: “I was referring to the behaviour of the people at the door - their actions. There was pushing and shoving and jostling of the councillors and I felt that was unnecessary.

“I shouldn't have said it but their behaviour was very bad and they were accusing us of all sorts of awful things when we hadn't even discussed the housing and they had no idea what we would decide.”

Doreen Savage said she was also disturbed by the attitude of the crowds outside.

“We are only here as consultees and we are not making decisions on anything,” she said. “Running the gauntlet getting in here tonight was pretty scary at the very least.”

Ian Heeley, one of those who attended the meeting but was unable to get in, said: “People were very angry outside because they could not get in.

“It would have been so much better if one of the councillors had come out of the meeting to talk to those of us outside and explain what was happening. I think the crowd would have then dispersed.”

Mr Heeley said most people mistakenly believed it was a public meeting when it was a council meeting and there was not necessarily a right to speak.

Mrs Sennington allowed 30 minutes for questions - twice as much as at a usual council meeting because of the huge amount of interest in the development proposals.

How well was the meeting handled - should Suffolk Coastal organise a public meeting? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk