THE chairman of Penketh Parish Council faces calls to resign after telling a fellow member to ‘wipe that f****** smirk off your face you f****** piece of s***.

It comes amid growing tensions and disagreements between Labour and independent parish councillors.

Warrington Borough Council’s chief executive Steven Broomhead virtually addressed members ahead of the parish council’s remote meeting over Zoom on Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, Matthew Cumberbatch, the borough council’s director of law and governance, observed the meeting.

Mr Broomhead said a number of concerns, anxieties and frustrations relating to the parish council have been communicated to him and Mr Cumberbatch over recent months.

And matters escalated during Part 2 of the parish council’s meeting – which was not open to the public.

Parish council chairman Cllr David Simm, Labour, asked members if they were in agreement over starting a tendering process.

Seconds later, he said: “Wipe that f****** smirk off your face, you f****** piece of s***.”

It sparked shock among parish councillors.

Cllr Christine Wych, independent, said: “Oh my god.”

Cllr Dale Solan-Cooper, independent, said: “Who are you actually speaking to there?”

Cllr Craig Lenihan, independent, said: “He’s speaking to me.”

Labour’s Cllr David Keane – who is also Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner – then intervened.

He said: “Chairman, members, can we please bring this back to together – there’s been lots of personal attacks this evening that are way outside of the realms of the council and whilst we can understand everyone’s frustration we’re going to get to a stage where this is utterly unprofessional.”

Cllr Geoff Fellows, independent, said the chair has just ‘verbally abused’ another councillor.

But Cllr Simm said: “I’ve been lied to.”

Cllr Fellows said he would like Cllr Simm to resign and labelled it as appalling behaviour.

Cllr Simm: “Well, I’m afraid that’s not going to happen.”

Cllr Fellows reaffirmed it was appalling behaviour, which sparked a response from Cllr Simm.

He said: “Oh I’m so sorry Geoffrey, I really am mate.”

Cllr Solan-Cooper highlighted the council’s director of law and governance was watching.

He said the chair was displaying ‘incredulous behaviour’ in front of 11 peers and a member of the borough council.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful and I’m absolutely shocked and ashamed of you,” he added.

Cllr Simm: “Yeah course you are, you’ve wound me up to this on purpose the pair of you.”

Cllr Keane said there has been ‘lots of shocking behaviour tonight’.

He said: “We need to sort this out, I believe with Matthew, with a series of conversations following the meeting.”

Cllr Keane also stated complaints should be made if people want to make them.

Speaking on Friday, Cllr Lenihan said: “I know the chair, Cllr David Simm, was directing those disgusting remarks at myself as later in the video when I shake my head in disgust he also acknowledges that.

“The video I have shared is a very brief insight into what Part 2 can be like. (I can confirm that the video shared does not breach Part 2 rules in my opinion as it was cropped so as not to show anything of a commercial or restrictive nature.)

“I have asked for the resignation of the chair and I will continue to do so until he does the right thing and steps down.”

Cllr Simm – who has issued a statement on the matter – says his language was unacceptable and that he thought his microphone was on mute.

But he says he ‘broke’ as a result of the ongoing tensions between members over a number of months and apologises wholeheartedly.

He said: “I deeply regret my language on the Zoom meeting on Wednesday night and within minutes I apologised profusely to my colleagues.”

Cllr Simm also says he was felt he was being goaded during the meeting.

He also claims there seems to be ‘little compassion anymore’.

He added: “As many of you know I’m a mild mannered individual and have worked alongside many of the community in my voluntary role with the food hub throughout the pandemic.

“I endeavour to be kind and considerate to every  individual I encounter.

“I do not wish to stand down from my voluntary involvement in our community – I want to continue to serve in the best way I can moving forward.

“I take pride in my role as the chair of the parish council and want to continue with this.

“It is not a paid role and something I do as a volunteer because I love the village I have always lived in.

“I hope the people of Penketh continue to support me to do this to the best of my ability.”