WIRRAL'S council leader said councillors were “subject to threatening and intimidating behaviour” following disruption by protesters at a meeting.

Cllr Paul Stuart made the comments on March 20 the day after protesters disrupted a pensions committee meeting and initially refused to leave the room. One protester was later observed calling a council staff member a “little rat.”

The protesters were raising concerns about claims of £17m investments by the Merseyside Pensions Fund in arms companies which they said had links to the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. The pensions committee which oversees the fund is looking at developing a new investment policy going forward.

At a policy and resources committee meeting on March 20, Cllr Stuart made a statement referring to “an incident that took place last night”, adding: “Members may be aware of the unpleasantness that took place last night during the Pensions committee meeting. While Cllr Julie McManus chaired the meeting in an exemplary manner, the behaviour and language of some of the public members towards elected members and staff were unacceptable.

“Several members and officers were subject to threatening and intimidating behaviour. To have staff verbally abused and some staff described as visibly shaken after the meeting is clearly unacceptable. What happened last night cannot be described as a love mob, nor described as peaceful protest.

“This isn’t the first meeting that it’s happened or the first time at pensions committee. It’s happened at other committees as well. We as elected members have a responsibility to ensure that what we say and do does not allow or encourage such behaviour and as community leaders we should call it out when it happens.

“Following the incident, discussions have taken place last night and today and a number of emails from members have been exchanged concerning public disruption. At the meeting, I want to reassure elected members and officers that a review of lessons learned from the meeting last night and meetings in the past will be reviewed and lessons learned.”

He said the council would be reviewing the future role of facility management and community patrol with a report brought forward in June, adding: “I want to place on record that the well-being of members and officers is an absolute priority for both myself as leader of the council and the Chief Exec (Paul Satoor.)”