WE love our parish councillors who work hard to represent their communities on grassroots issues.

It’s certainly a labour of love for members who can claim expenses to support their work, unlike MPs who get a salary and district and county councillors who get an allowance.

However, in light of the video of Handforth Parish Council going viral online, where the meeting descended into swearing, raised voices and some participants getting sent to the online version of the naughty step - the video meeting waiting room - we asked fellow journalists for their favourite fun memories of parish meetings.

Former Evening News reporter David Chapman recalls covering various parish councils in the 70s.

He said: “I recall the mid-70s monthly meetings of Grafton Flyford, Flyford Flavell and North Piddle Parish Council, under the chairmanship of the affable Freddie Whitehead.

“Unfortunately, Freddie had throat cancer and he used to speak through a black box which he put up to his vocal chords. Sadly, what came out was not always coherent and often, I left the meeting with blank spaces in my notebook because I had been unable to understand what he had said hoping against hope that a phone call to the clerk would fill them in!

“Meetings of Rushwick Parish Council always – always – included a discussion on the state of one of its footpaths

“Castlemorton Village Hall, where Castlemorton Parish Council met, smelled like well-hung pheasants and Tenbury Rural District Council Chamber, where the town council met, almost knocked you senseless with the smell of polish.”

Ex reporter Claire Fry recalls there were always little gems she could use for short stories.

Claire said: “It usually involved pot holes, dog poo, bins, graffiti and conservatory extensions.”

“I’d always be cornered at the end by a councillor with an‘exclusive’ story, which was always more gossip than fact!”

Ex-rugby reporter Tom Guest previously worked on news and clearly didn’t feel part of the furniture at St Peter’s Parish Council. He said: “I remember a half-hour extension to a meeting for an AOB discussion on whether to buy a filing cabinet.

“Another time the chairman paused to ask if there were any questions from the public. Except no public were there. Just two bored reporters.”

Keen cricket fan James Savage longed for an update on his favourite sport at Powick Parish Council - but never got the news he craved.

He said: “There was always an update on the new cricket pavilion.

“The update was always that there was no update.”

A fashion conscious reporter was not so impressed at one meeting.

She said: “A whole evening spent listening to them go on about what kind of high vis jacket to buy was a low point (who knew there were so many options).”One reporter who covered Stourport Town Council had a move which ensured the councillors’ silence.

When the evening’s proceedings became a bit too dull she would put down her pen and fold her arms, leaving the councillors dumbfounded.

It also seems some councillors made more of an impression than others.

Former Worcester News reporter Paul Broome said:”I remember a meeting of Colwall Parish Council where they spent 15 minutes deciding if a councillor had been at the previous meeting.”

There certainly wasn’t room for one more when frustrated reporter Lydia Johnson got caught up in transport issues at the same council.

She said: “They spent 45 minutes debating whether to move a bus stop slightly to the right.”

Meanwhile, veteran Worcester News reporter Mike Pryce recalled a young Australian called Howard Roche who mixed business with pleasure when he worked for the Evening News in the early 1970s when it was owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Mike recalled: “Howard’s dad was one of Murdoch’s financial chiefs and he arranged for his son to spend a couple of years on the Worcester Evening News after finishing university. The fact it coincided with an Australian Ashes tour to England was pure good fortune.

“Howard was a brilliant chap, but only had a passing interest in journalism, so it was possibly to be expected when he was assigned to cover a meeting of Hallow Parish Council he approached it his way.”

“His evening began with Howard entertaining a young lady to a meal, plus a few glasses of amber nectar (for she was driving), in the Crown pub before wandering next door to the village hall for the PC meeting at 8pm.”

Unfortunately, the hearty meal and the rambling discourse took its toll on Howard and he fell asleep, his head coming to rest on the green baize card table which often served as the temporary press bench in village halls.

“However, no-one actually noticed until he started snoring. At which point he was prodded back into life by the clerk of the council, who wrote a letter to the editor the following day. The episode merely confirmed to some of the more gentrified members of the council that the 19th century drive to export criminals to the colonies should be reinstated to scoop up a few more!”

More recently Becky Bourne, who covered St Peter’s Parish Council, in the noughties, wished a “stringer” had covered one meeting instead.

Becky recalled: “I often dine out on the 10.30pm debate at St Peter’s about whether to replace the missing string on the playing field gate.”

Meanwhile ex Evesham and Cotswold reporter Mathew Martin was somewhat flushed by the end of one meeting.

He said: “The councillors couldn’t co-ordinate what they called their “comfort breaks”. By the time the last one had ‘popped out for a minute’ the first needed to go again. Fittingly, they were discussing a dilapidated toilet block.”

All good fun but these unsung heroes deserve our praise and remember, no matter what happens at your local parish council, they will never behave as disgracefully as the members of Handforth Parish Council the other evening.

We hope ...