Cries of ‘shame’ from public gallery as Council ceasefire motion is watered down

18th April 2024

Angry scenes broke out at a Sefton Council meeting at Southport Town Hall on Thursday night, as a motion in support of a ceasefire in Palestine and Israel was watered down by amendments.

An intial motion from Councillors Natasha Carlin and Sean Halsall, who recently resigned from the Labour Party, called upon Sefton Council to contact Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Keir Starmer to ‘express the Council’s view that there should be an urgent and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the rest of Palestine and Israel and that every effort should be made to resume the peace process, including Humanitarian Law to ensure civilians everywhere are protected.

This line was later removed by an amendment from Leader of the Council, Labour’s Cllr Marion Atkinson.

Debate on the amendment focused on the removal of the instruction to write to Keir Starmer with Liberal Democrat Iain Brodie-Browne declaring “You can’t always move amendments to protect the Labour Party.”

Cllr Pugh derided that: “I think Sefton flatters itself in thinking it needs a foreign policy – I don’t think there is a deliberate attempt to eliminate Palestinian people, I don’t think we should say that.”

Labour Councillors defended the amendment in asserting that it continued to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine, with Cllr Atkinson telling the chamber that Sefton was ‘unequivocal’ in wanting no further loss of life.

The Council chamber had been intermittently filled to capacity with key votes due on local telegraph poles ahead of a vote on a Gaza ceasefire.

Members of the public in the gallery left councillors in no doubt as to the strength of their feeling, leaving the chamber with crieds of ‘shame’ and ‘spineless’.

Cllrs Carlin and Halsall announced they could not support the amended motion and later abstained with the Liberal Democrats, while Labour and Conservative councillors voted in favour of the amended motion.