Coronavirus: Scarborough councillor wears face mask at meeting after rumours that council leader had been in affected area of Italy

Scarborough’s Labour Party has dismissed online rumours that the borough council’s leader has recently been in the coronavirus affected area of Italy after he left a meeting feeling unwell.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Sunday, 1st March 2020, 9:25 am
Updated Sunday, 1st March 2020, 9:28 am

Council leader Cllr Steve Siddons left shortly before the end of Friday’s full council meeting after complaining of being “lightheaded”.

Reports had surfaced online prior to the meeting that Cllr Siddons had been in Tuscany, which is now become an area of infection for the virus.

Cluster of Independent Members leader Cllr Bill Chatt, who has repeatedly clashed with Cllr Siddons since last May’s local election, wore a face mask throughout Friday’s council session, in which the authority set its budget.

Cllr Bill Chatt wearing the face mask during the meeting.

After Cllr Siddons left the meeting he was checked over by Independent Group Cllr Eileen Murphy, a registered nurse.

The council’s deputy leader, Cllr Liz Colling (Lab), informed her fellow councillors that Cllr Siddons “did not have a cough” and felt “light-headed”.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting, Cllr Colling said that Cllr Siddons had “definitely not” just returned from Italy, saying he had last been abroad to “Spain or Portugal”.

A spokesman for the Scarborough Labour Party later confirmed the leader was last in Italy in 2017.

During the meeting, Cllr Siddons told Cllr Chatt this his wearing of the mask could “send a worrying message to the public”.