A COUNCILLOR claims he is being gagged by the Mayor after a fiery full council meeting last night and has described the Labour party as a shambles.

Cllr Kevin Bennett was stopped from speaking on several occasions by Cllr Geoff Settle as the Mayor of Warrington felt what the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition councillor was saying was irrelevant to the matters that were being debated.

The Fairfield and Howley councillor said: “The worst behaviour came from the Mayor – he was determined to stop me from speaking at every opportunity, asking me at one point ‘are you going to be like this all night’ simply because I put my hand up to ask a question.

“More than once he refused to let me finished my sentences and told me to sit down – this is not the way the civic Mayor is supposed to behave.

“When I am in the council chamber I want to put the views of the people I represent to the whole of the council.

“Obviously the Mayor doesn’t want to hear from people in Fairfield and Howley, he was too busy trying to gag me.

“I am now looking into how I can make a serious complaint against the Mayor – democracy has once again died a death in Warrington.”

Cllr Bennett also criticised the Labour party’s discipline and claimed that Cllr Russ Bowden was given too long to speak.

He said: “The Labour group have no discipline and act like a divided rabble.

“Cllr Billy Lines-Rowlands was shouting threats across the council chamber in a classic display of Labour intimidation.

“The council chamber should be used to debate real issues and to allow every councillor the right to be heard and to obtain answers, not just standard replies.

“However when it’s a Labour councillor who regularly goes over the allotted time to speak he was once again allowed by the Mayor to carry on speaking after the red light came on – the same courtesy is not given to the public or opposition councillors, and in my case I’m not even given the allotted time on many occasions.

“Jeremy Corbyn promised that we would have a new kind of politics from the Labour part but obviously the Labour group here in Warrington haven’t got the message yet.

“Their ill-disciplined councillors were trying to heckle the opposition and ridicule me – I say the people of Warrington deserve to be heard and we must represent their views and needs.”

Cllr Bennett added that members of the public should go to a council meeting to see what he described as ‘the fiasco they call an open and democratic meeting’.

In a statement the Mayor said: "Given that this is a political arena things will get heated, emotions will run high and some members will feel that they are not being given enough time.

"There are recommended time scales for speakers and I am able to exercise a degree of discretion to allocate a few extra minutes to enable someone to finish off a point which I did last night.

"I apologised in advance in case I was viewed as being too rigorous in my pursuit of conducting the meeting in an effective and efficient way.

"No doubt some members will be calling for my head - I will be taking a neutral and impartial approach.

"I believe that I have to make changes in the way I chair full council meetings in an attempt to bring further order to the chamber - the mood and conduct have in my opening been slipping away in recent times."