WINSFORD council meetings postponed due to 'a risk of violent behaviour' went ahead last night in front of a packed public gallery without any incidents.

Mayor Ailsa Gaskill-Jones opened the full council meeting with a stern warning that there would be 'zero tolerance' of any shouting out or jeering.

Any councillors or members of the public who failed to behave respectfully, she stressed, would be asked to leave and she vowed to end the meeting if there was any 'unpleasant' behaviour.

A security officer remained in the chamber throughout the debate.

You could have heard a pin drop as the mayor said she had been 'incredibly saddened and distressed' by the tone of the debate around decisions made at an extraordinary meeting on January 8.

Two Labour defectors Cllrs Mike Kennedy and Dave Edwards were thrown off committees they served on and former mayor Cllr Kennedy was stripped of his seat as finance and grants chairman after they declared themselves independents.

Tempers flared as a party feud had triggered a stormy debate amid allegations of bullying.

"My view was that there was a risk of the evident anger and frustration boiling over into physical abuse," said Cllr Gaskill-Jones. "It is for that reason that the meeting was postponed."

Cheshire Police advised that if there was any risk of violence, the meeting should be deferred until a full risk assessment could be completed.

The mayor said: "I have witnessed appalling behaviour, spitefulness, unfounded accusations and cynical deflection from people supporting those across the piece. Some of the social media behaviour has in all honesty been vile.

"As Mayor of Winsford this is utterly depressing. I feel it reflects very badly on everyone and more significantly on the reputation of the town. A town which everyone concerned asserts is their priority.

"I am not trying to diminish the frustration, anger and pain many have felt by events.

"I understand that there are people who have been very hurt by what has gone on, things that have been said, decisions that have been made and I appreciate that will take considerable healing."

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The mayor called for councillors to make amends and work together for the good of the town.

"The vileness must stop," said Cllr Gaskill-Jones. "We are civilised people, living in a civilised country. This level of unpleasantness, vitriol and anger is achieving nothing.

"I appreciate there are debates to be had but they should be done in an adult way. And this will start with tonight."

The mayor invited Rev George Crowder to lead a prayer. The vicar from St John's Church Over urged councillors to 'put on love' and 'forgive one another' as he read a scripture reading from St Paul's letter to the Colossians.

A minute's silence was then held to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.