A councillor has called for a change to the way online meetings at Burntwood Town Council are carried out after a session was interrupted by “online trolls shouting profanities”.

The Old Mining College Centre, home of Burntwood Town Council

The meeting last night (11th March) was disrupted by unknown individual shouting comments about the IRA.

Burntwood Town Council hosts its meetings on Zoom, inviting residents to attend using a link published on the agenda.

But Cllr Wai-Lee Ho said a system like one used elsewhere – where the Zoom meeting invite is private to councillors but streamed elsewhere for others to watch – now needed to be introduced to prevent a repeat of such actions.

Cllr Wai-Lee Ho

“I am saddened by the hijacking at the start of the meeting by online trolls who were shouting profanities.

“I had previously called for Burntwood Town Council meetings to be streamed live on YouTube, like Lichfield District Council.

“I feel this latest incident further demonstrates this need and hopefully expedites the move to YouTube.”

Cllr Wai-Lee Ho, Burntwood Town Council

Fellow Conservative member Cllr Thomas Loughbrough Rudd said:

“Disgraceful scenes at Burntwood Town Council with trolls screaming ‘up the IRA’ and other rubbish during a statement praising the work of the NHS and volunteers by the chair of the council.

“Credit to the chair and the clerk for dealing with it so quickly.”

Cllr Thomas Loughbrough Rudd, Burntwood Town Council

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  1. Well that’s news to the rest of us at BTC.

    Last year I suggested that we could follow LDC with YouTube recordings and gave the name of a contact there. In fact I had suggested a good example to them that I had found on the web. I have asked about progress at further meetings and did so again last night and the Clerk explained the technical delay which was being fixed with our IT contractor.

    As it happens the last two meetings at LDC have failed to be streamed to YouTube.

    A member of the Council did report that they had written to the MP about continuing Zoom meetings after May, when the legislation ends, so look forward to that reply.

  2. Have these people nothing better to do for goodness sake. Or were they just there for fun. Better to use their energies more positively for the good of their communities. I am sure the communities will agree. I empathise with Councillor Wai-Lee Ho having to deal with such negative behaviour can be distressing. Perhaps the Zoom way is the way on future.

  3. So if the town council is already addressing this issue and the Clerk explained that to councillors last night, why is Councillor WaileeHo making claims that nothing is being done? Was he not listening when the Clerk explained about the technical delay to switching over to a better system?

    Seems to me that making such statements in public and others describing the “disgraceful scenes” is doing exactly what these trollers want – giving them the attention they do not deserve. Why give them the “oxygen” of publicity when all these deserve is our silent contempt?

    If the issue is being addressed already why create a fuss over nothing and in so doing alert other trollers to the opportunity to cause disruption?

  4. I thought this was yet another article about well-known internet troll Michael Fabricant MP. My mistake, sorry.

  5. Barry Scott makes the point perfectly.

    Cllr Ho is a bit late to the party as he knows full well that this was already being discussed having been suggested by Steve Norman some time ago. He is also well aware of the technical issues that have so far prevented it as these were explained again at the meeting.

    Had he attended the last planning meeting at LDC he would also know YouTube streaming has had issues there, which have prevented what he is calling for.

    Why bother raising this and giving the trolls the publicity and attention they wanted? He could have just listened to the reasons why the You Tube link isn’t yet possible and not given the trolls the attention they wanted.

    Anyone would think he is trying to turn it into a LDC v BTC issue. Could there be an election coming where he wants to raise the profile of his party?

  6. Have to say I agree with the comment about why give these trolls a voice. Obviously it is attention seeking behaviour and they achieved their goal. Attention seeking obviously denotes a problem. So why exacerbate it. @Lichvegas spot on.

  7. I don’t often comment here but I feel I need to on this occasion.
    I have no idea who the people who chose to try and wreck this meeting were but I do know that their actions let them down and I hope they in future learn to be better Sure they wanted attention but they also disrupted a meeting that had been pretty civil and indeed interrupted a speech by the chair who praised the NHS’s response to covid 19. Now it might be my autism playing a part but there was no way I could ignore that without condemning it. For better or worse silence has neve been something I can be accused of. Frankly I felt embarrassed for the chair who despite being a different party to myself has always been welcoming and fair throughout her time in office. I have to credit the clerk for how quickly it was dealt with.

  8. Mr Rudd – whilst I appreciate your comment and the sentiment, any right and fair-minded person would feel the same but not necessarily publicise it in a way that gives details of what happened and so encourage others to try and go one better next time. Ignoring them and what they said or did is always the best course of action.

    You can still give the chairman and clerk the praise they deserve without giving the trollers any publicity and so in effect justifying what they said and did by broadcasting it to a wider audience. Without your social media post I probably would have been none the wiser about what had happened and what was said.

    Perhaps you and the other young councillor mentioned in this article should consider following the lead of more experienced elected representatives in how you respond to such incidents and present those responses in public.

    I am a supporter of the party you both represent, but I believe the more experienced opposition party councillors have show you both how you should react in such cases.

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