Macclesfield: Security tightened at council meeting following death of Sir David Amess

  Posted: 22.10.21 at 09:29 by Belinda Ryan, Local Democracy Reporter and Alexander Greensmith

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Security was tightened at Cheshire East Council’s first meeting since the horrific killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

Guards were outside the door throughout the meeting on Wednesday and all bags were checked before anyone was allowed inside the hall at Macclesfield Leisure Centre on Priory Lane.

The meeting began with a one minute silence before group leaders from all parties offered their condolences and sympathy to the family of Sir David and paid their respects to the popular Conservative MP, who was killed as he held a surgery for constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Conservative group leader Janet Clowes (Wybunbury) said she didn’t know the Southend West MP personally but ‘many people I [know] have the privilege of knowing, knew him as a kind, generous mentor and friend’.

She added: “In all the responses I have read and heard to this tragic event of last Friday, is that Sir David Amess comes across as someone who took his public service seriously, was respected and, above all, was kind.’

Sir David is the second MP to have been killed in England while carrying out constituency work in the past five years.

Cllr Clowes, Corcoran and Browne spoke on Amess and their own safety.

Labour MP Jo Cox was killed in June 2016 outside a library in Birstall where she was due to hold a constituency surgery.

At Wednesday’s meeting in our town, Cheshire East councillors called for an end to the ‘vile and personal attacks’ on all public servants.

Cheshire East’s deputy leader Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) said: “While I’m saddened and appalled that any public servant should be brutally stabbed and killed in the course of trying to help others, with regret I am becoming less and less surprised by it.

“While the pandemic has brought out the best in many people in communities, I have observed that, for a small minority, the opposite is true.

“Increasingly we are seeing hatred and intolerance directed towards those with differing views.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Rod Fletcher is a victim of regular verbal and written abuse from the public.

“Online platforms and social media are becoming vehicles for some vile and personal attacks on all public servants and frequently these are being perpetrated by those who are brave enough only to hide behind a computer screen or a pseudonym.

“We have perhaps all been guilty at times of dismissing this kind of behaviour as the rough and tumble of politics, but each time we remain silent such behaviour appears to gain a sense of acceptability in the minds of certain people and occasionally they are willing to act on their words.

“Sadly, last Friday, we all saw where this escalating anger can lead and before this list grows any longer we owe it to the memories of public servants such as David Amess and Jo Cox to collectively say enough is enough.”

Liberal Democrat leader Rod Fletcher (Alsager) said he had, like other councillors, received abuse on social media and via email.

“It’s tragic, some of the vile comments that are now appearing on social media,” said Cllr Fletcher.

The late MP Sir David Amess pictured in early 2020 by photographer Richard Townsend.

He added: “Hopefully everyone can learn from this. Hopefully we can all move forward and politics in future will become a safer place.”

Council leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) said he had been shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Sir David Amess and called on people to be kinder to each other.

“We all have a responsibility to change our behaviour and our society in the light of the hideous killing of Sir David Amess, to make sure that some good comes from this tragedy and to show kindness and love to all,” he said.

These safety measures will be in place for the foreseeable future.

Just hours after his death last Friday, Macclesfield MP David Rutley paid tribute to his Conservative colleague.

Please click here to read that story.

We will report on Macclesfield relevant details of this week's borough council meeting in the coming days.

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