Member of the public asked to stand down after heated exchange at council meeting

Shirley Weymouth is the Mayor of Great Yarmouth. Photo: Nick Butcher

Shirley Weymouth is the Mayor of Great Yarmouth. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

In a heated exchange, the mayor of Great Yarmouth asked a member of the public to stand down after tempers flared over a question about wages.

Mayor Shirley Weymouth, asked John Cannell, from the Great Yarmouth Trades Council, to leave the box after he raised his voice and said that discussions in the country were being stopped, before shouting: “There is no democracy here.”

Mr Cannell, who had submitted a question about the introduction of a “living wage” in the town, said: “The characteristics of Great Yarmouth’s economy include low wages, seasonal, part-time work and a dependency on welfare benefits such as in work tax credits.”

He asked Graham Plant, the Conservative leader of the council, if he believed the introduction of an £8.25 living wage, and ending the dependency on seasonal employment, would improve the local economy?

He also asked if Mr Plant agreed with him that council tax payers money should not subsidise employers offering zero-hour contracts or those not paying the living wage.

Mr Plant said that he agreed with Mr Plant’s first question, and in answer to his second he retorted that the government’s introduction of the national living wage in April, which will see the minimum wage increased by 50p to £7.20 per hour, would partly address the issue.

He added that new legislation meant that employers could no longer enforce exclusivity in zero-hour contracts, so workers could seek other employment if the hours they were offered were too few.

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Mr Cannell said that Mr Plant was a “puppet” for the chancellor George Osborne and went on the say that working class people in Great Yarmouth were being made into “white slaves.”

After the meeting, Mr Cannell said he was trying to raise the problem of the economic situation in the town.