Police were called to a council meeting in Helston this week after climate protestors began "disrupting the meeting."

Helston Town Council was holding its monthly meeting on Thursday, in the Guildhall, which a group of 18 climate protestors attended, some to speak during the public questions section.

The council allows 15 minutes for public questions, with each person speaking allocated three minutes to conclude what they wish to say.

However, during this section a dispute arose over the length of time that had been given, with one of the protestors claiming she had not been given the full three minutes to talk, while the council said she had overrun the allotted time.

Julia Schofield, who had been speaking at the time, on behalf of the climate protestors, told the Packet afterwards: "The chair stopped me before I’d had three minutes, saying public participation had gone over 15 minutes – because the previous public speaker, a councillor's long reply to her and then the re-entry of several councillors who had had to leave during their speaking took so long. So I kept going.

"When my microphone was switched off we all started to hum. Then everyone from outside with all the banners came in."

The group also took the opportunity to display vests they were wearing, bearing the word 'Divest', in a nod to their message.

At this point, with the meeting unable to proceed, the police were called.


A police officer watches on as the protestors disperse

A police officer watches on as the protestors disperse


Town clerk Pamela Lavelle later confirmed to the Packet that she had contacted the police, after the protestors began "disrupting the meeting."

She said: "I can advise that I called the police on behalf of the council when the public in attendance were disrupting the meeting, preventing the consideration of council business, and refused to leave.

"The speaker exceeded their allocated three minutes and the entire public participation session had overrun the allocated 15 minutes session.

"The speaker was given the opportunity to make their additional comments in writing, which would be circulated to members and a member of the group took the opportunity to provide each [council] member with a letter."

The meeting had to be paused while the room was cleared of the protestors, before resuming for the remainder of the agenda.

Police called to the scene said that 15 to 20 people left peacefully at around 8.15pm. No offences had been committed and no arrests were made.

The protestors had been at the meeting to call upon the Downsland Trust to remove the charity's money from fossil fuels and instead invest it into renewables and regenerative projects.

Julia Schofield said: “Spontaneous wildfires burnt down homes and businesses in several parts of the UK earlier this week, which senior firefighters in the north of England categorically said were caused by climate change. The fires spread so quickly and so ferociously that the firemen cannot put them out.

“ We have to stop tinkering round the edges, and get to the root cause of these catastrophes which will damage us here in Cornwall as surely as they are killing people in Greece, France, Spain and Portugal.

"We have to stop it getting worse."


Protestors outside the Guildhall in Helston with banners

Protestors outside the Guildhall in Helston with banners


Divest Helston delivered a letter at the meeting, signed by members of Extinction Rebellion, Divest Helston, Friends of the Earth, Helston Climate Action Group and Wildlife Groundswell, with a demand that the Downsland Trust puts a clause in its constitution preventing investments in fossil fuels.

However, in a complicated set-up, the trust is chaired by Helston's mayor and the town councillors are its trustees, but the trust itself is not connected to the town council and is a separate body.

On Friday the town council issued a statement that said: "The council is disappointed with the outcome of last night's meeting, but written copies of comments provided by the public have been circulated to all members.

"The council is keen to engage with the public on matters associated with the town council and has a clear procedure to do this at meetings (laid out in Standing Orders).

"The council cannot make comment on the activities of external organisations and does not condone behaviour which disrupts the business of a town council meeting."

The Packet has contacted the Downsland Trust for comment.