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Knitting needles cause a stir at Liskeard Town Council meeting

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: May 22, 2013

NEW COUNCILLORS:  The members of Open Liskeard, who stood for election onto Liskeard Town Council.

NEW COUNCILLORS: The members of Open Liskeard, who stood for election onto Liskeard Town Council.

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A KNITTING councillor who brought her woolly workings into a Liskeard Town Council meeting failed to leave the mayor in stitches last Tuesday.

During the first council meeting following the local elections, which saw a splinter group from the Liskeard Town Team – Open Liskeard – take 9 of the 15 seats available in the biggest shake-up in the town's politics in decades, a pair of knitting needles stirred a heated exchange between the town mayor and Open Liskeard councillors.

After newly elected Open Liskeard councillor Rachel Brooks began knitting, town mayor Tony Powell accused her of being disrespectful to both the council and the Liskeard electorate.

Mrs Brooks replied: "I certainly don't mean any disrespect but I find it helps my concentration."

"Does that mean that anyone can bring a hobby to the table?" Mr Powell replied.

Jumping to her colleague's defence, town councillor and Cornwall councillor for Liskeard East Sally Hawken said: "I would like to see this council being non-judgemental about things like this."

After being told to stand when addressing the council by Mr Powell, who also stood in the county council elections for Liskeard East, Ms Hawken proceeded to cite equality rights saying that if knitting helped Mrs Brook concentrate then she should be allowed to continue.

Open Liskeard town councillor and newly elected Cornwall councillor for Liskeard North Roger Holmes also jumped to Mrs Brooks' aid.

"I have been a councillor here for years and I do not see any difference to doodling on a piece of paper," he said.

Following Mr Holmes' comments Mr Powell continued with the meeting, while Mrs Brooks continued knitting.

The newly elected council voted Susan Pike as the new town mayor and Phil Seeva as deputy, both of whom are members of Open Liskeard.

They also agreed to have weekly meetings while a standards committee reviews the council's existing practices – a key point in the Open Liskeard manifesto.

Seven members of the council, both experienced and newly elected individuals, will sit on the committee including Tony Powell, Nick Mallard, Susan Pike, Roger Holmes, Ian Goldsworthy, Lorna Shrubshole and Rachel Brooks.

Speaking to the council Mrs Shrubshole said: "I know it might seem scary. This is an opportunity to look at what we have been doing and to see whether we feel there may be a different way that we can best represent our townsfolk."

Mr Powell said: "Change is fine as long as it isn't change for the sake of change's sake.

"Please put aside thoughts of us being scared."

The council was due to meet yesterday evening to begin the review process.

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