What democracy?

They say wisdom and maturity come with age, but not for some it would seem.

I went to Bideford Town Hall to see the council vote on an amendment to the Atlantic Array wind farm planning debate.

Apart from a reporter and an usher, the rest of the 60-odd people in the gallery seemed to belong to the Slay the Array/UKIP rent-a-mob crowd and almost all of them were over 65.

It all started with an extremely rude and arrogant man in the gallery trying to tell the chairman what he should be doing.

The chairman came down hard on this first interruption (observers are expected to remain silent in council meetings) but soon they were all at it and, from then on, it was mob rule.

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These protestors constantly interrupted with shouts of ‘rubbish’ and ‘nonsense’ whenever someone made a point that supported the initial council decision to approve planning for the Atlantic Array.

They harangued and bullied and helped force the chair to bend council procedure again and again with accusations of lack of democracy if he didn’t.

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Thing is, these people had no respect for the mechanisms of democracy whatsoever, they were simply out to get their own way.

From the apoplectic outbursts, most were totally incapable of accepting that anyone can even have a legitimate view that is opposed to theirs.

Everyone listened politely and tolerantly when a councillor speaking against the Array exceeded her three-minute time slot by twice this time but when another councillor speaking for the Array exceeded his time by a minute or two they all started yelling ‘Time!’ and completely drowned out this gentleman’s summing up with their yelling.

This was a shameful disrespect for the process of local democracy from people who are constantly whinging about the lack of it.

Their leaders have the gall to claim they speak for ‘the people of North Devon’ when in fact they represent a small but extremely vocal minority.

Most Devonians are not intolerant, rude, climate-change denying, pro-nuclear and in love with ‘fracking’ as the majority of this mob clearly were from their outbursts.

They are so arrogantly sure of their total rightness, they doubtless went away thinking democracy had been served.

How can democracy function properly under a protesting bullying mob – even of pensioners? I think de-mock-racy might be a better term for what happened.

Stephen Jarvis,


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