Cllr Tom Wright, the Conservative councillor who represents the Budleigh and Raleigh ward on East Devon District Council, apologised unreservedly for this language when the virtual meeting resumed on Friday morning.
(Cllr Tom Wright also was the councillor who proposed Cllr Andrew Moulding as Leader. Had he done his sums he wouldn’t have been in the least surprised at the outcome – Owl)
Councillors were electing a new leader of the council at Thursday night’s meeting and 57 of the 60 votes had been cast when the live Youtube stream of the proceedings abruptly ended.
The reconvened meeting on Friday morning saw Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the Democratic Alliance, elected as the new council leader by 32 votes to 20, with eight abstentions.
But before the last three votes were counted, Cllr Wright began the meeting with an apology for his actions.
He said: “I apologise for bringing everybody here this morning and I wish to apologise unreservedly for my actions last evening. I must point out I was not directing abuse to any other councillor.
“I was expressing my personal disappointment as the result was unfolding and my microphone was on as I was semi-called to put my vote.
“I apologise to all councillors, officers and members of the public who were following the events on YouTube and for the harm it did to the democratic process and reputation of the council, not least the public’s view of the council and its councillors.
“I am also very aware of the extra work and strain this will have put on East Devon District Council staff and I apologise separately to them. I can say no more, I am truly sorry.”
Cllr Stuart Hughes, chairman of the council, added: “I would also like to sincerely apologise on behalf of East Devon District Council to members of the public who were watching yesterday and experienced this unfortunate incident.”
He began the meeting by adding: “I strongly reiterate the point for councillors to make sure all microphones are muted when you’re not speaking to avoid any background noise levels and ensure that you use appropriate language.”