Insulate Britain: Jailed councillor to remain part of Scarborough's Labour Group

Scarborough's Labour Group will not remove the whip and expel a borough councillor who has been jailed, despite calls for her to go from opposing parties.

By George Buksmann
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 3:05 pm
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 10:40 am
Cllr Theresa Norton (left) glued to the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice. (Photo: Insulate Britain)
Cllr Theresa Norton (left) glued to the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice. (Photo: Insulate Britain)

Councillor Theresa Norton was jailed on February 2 after defying a court order preventing Insulate Britain campaigners from protesting on the M25 motorway.

Now the leader of Scarborough's Labour Group has broken their silence for the first time, speaking to The Scarborough News.

Cllr Liz Colling said Cllr Norton is a "valued" member of the group and works hard for her ward residents.

Cllr Theresa Norton (left) with three of the four other jailed protestors. (Photo: Insulate Britain)

"She feels passionately about climate change and is prepared to take her own personal action on the matter and she was well aware of the consequences of her doing so.

"The Labour Group will not be passing comment on the matter whilst Theresa is not available," Cllr Colling said.

Scarborough's Labour Group has not withdrawn the whip, which would effectively expel Cllr Norton from the group; but she would retain her ward seat.

Cllr Norton, who represents the Eastfield ward, was arrested four times in eight days last September after joining demonstrations on the motorway.

National Highways and Transport for London were granted a number of High Court injunctions last year after the group's blockades caused serious disruption.

Cllr Norton, 63, of Esplanade Gardens, and four other activists were all charged with contempt of court and were jailed for between 24 and 42 days. Her sentence does not meet the 12-week threshold to disqualify her as a councillor.

In a statement, Scarborough Council said it had a "duty" to look into all complaints received about councillors in accordance with its policy.

"In the event that we receive such a complaint about Cllr Norton, we will follow our formal policy for dealing with standards complaints," a spokesperson for the authority said.

Conservative councillors have criticised the council’s leader, Cllr Steve Siddons, for not publicly addressing the jailing, despite committing to a policy of "openness and transparency".

Cllr Derek Bastiman, leader of Conservative Group, said: "I believe that he is trying to sweep this under the carpet and hope that all will be forgotten about."

Deputy leader Cllr Heather Phillips added: "It is extremely hypocritical of him to remain silent when his councillor is in prison."

Cllr Norton was charged with wilfully obstructing a highway with an non-motor vehicle in May last year after sitting in the road and blocking traffic on St Nicholas Street in Scarborough town centre.

The councillor was elected to Scarborough Borough Council in 2019 and sits on the Planning and Standards committees.