THE WAR of words between Belhus councillors and residents appears to have taken a nasty turn when a 78-year-old military veteran was manhandled at a residents meeting.
Peter Perrin, 78, Broxburn Drive, South Ockendon had attended a special meeting of South Ockendon Residents Association (Sora) last Wednesday to address a number of complaints.
The Chair of SORA, Cllr Sue Gray was present along with fellow Belhus Cllr Wendy Curtis.
Mr Perrin said: “I was invited to the meeting to address a number of issues. Once I got there I felt an uncomfortable atmosphere. The meeting turned into something akin to a “Kangaroo Court””.
As tempers frayed I was referring to evidence I had on a printed out e-mail. As I held it, a woman tried to grab it. I held onto it and jerked forward as she tried to yank it again”.
The meeting was being minuted by Ngage representative, Jacqui Payne.
Mrs Payne said:” It became quickly apparent that there was unrest between those people present which led to heated debates. Despite only being there to record the minutes, I felt it necessary to stop the meeting as I could see no resolution would be reached.
Others at the meeting were shocked by the intimidating atmosphere at the meeting.
Deirdre Lodge, Stifford Road said: “There was a horrible atmosphere there. There was a little 78-year-old man being subjected to what was like a show trial.
“When the woman tried to grab the papers, I thought that Peter was going to fall over.”
YourThurrock asked Mr Perrin if he felt frightenned. He said: “No, I have been through a lot in 78 years. This incident was unpleasant.”
YourThurrock has spoken to Cllr Sue Gray but she has refused to issue a statement pending legal advice. Other individuals present have been given an opportunity to respond but to date have not done so.
Mrs Payne added: “Once the meeting had been bought to a close, I recommended and have since offered training and an opportunity to bring two of the individuals concerned together to try and resolve the issues and find a better way of working together for the benefit of their local community.”
Earlier this month, a rift was reported over the Howard Tenens Lorry Park in Stifford Road. The councillors objected to planning permission while 400 residents supported it.