Southend Councillor clashes with Mayor as wearing sunglasses in virtual meeting is compared to drinking or smoking

An argument erupted in a public meeting of Southend Council when a councillor put on sunglasses to “stop the glare” from his computer.

During the confrontation on Thursday night, Conservative Mayor, Councillor John Lamb compared Independent councillor Stephen Aylen’s decision to wear the glasses to drinking or smoking during a council meeting.

Mr Aylen insisted he needed to wear the large rounded sunglasses during the virtual meeting to “stop the glare off the screen” and accused the mayor of “picking” on him because many other councillors were not wearing jackets – usually a formal requirement for the meetings.

He said: “You have got lots of councillors not wearing jackets, you haven’t told them off.

“Why are you picking on me for putting on a pair of sunglasses when it stops the glare off the screen?”

He added that he strongly protested being told to remove them, but Mr Lamb told him he needed to buy prescription sunglasses if he was unable to see his screen.

He then warned that if he kept them on, he would have to leave the meeting.

Mr Lamb added: “Remove the sunglasses and pay due respect to everyone here so you can be properly seen.

“You are part of this meeting and I welcome you here, I certainly look forward to your contribution but I do not expect someone to be wearing sunglasses during these meetings.

“As mentioned about smoking and about drinking – it is not acceptable.

“I appreciate you are in your own home, but this is a council meeting. Please remove the sunglasses.”

Mr Aylen eventually chose to remove them rather than leave.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter