Nottinghamshire County Council pension committee held up after members of Extinction Rebellion interrupt meeting

A council pensions meeting was held up for eight minutes by Extinction Rebellion campaigners shouting from the public gallery.

By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 29th July 2021, 8:13 pm

Councillors walked out of the meeting as climate campaigners accused the committee of ‘hypocrisy’ over where it invests pension funds.

Fourteen members of campaign groups XR and Divest Notts interrupted the start of the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund Committee meeting, at County Hall on Thursday July 29.

They claim the council’s pension fund is being used to provide “immoral funding” for fossil fuel industries.

Extinction Rebellion campaigners shouting from the public gallery at the Nottinghamshire County Council meeting.

Chairman of the meeting Eric Kerry told councillors he was adjourning proceedings “until the public gallery remains calm”.

The meeting was restarted after campaigners left the public gallery.

Councillor Kerry told the chamber: “Thank you for bearing with us during that short interlude where members of the public gallery intervened in this meeting rather disrespectfully.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work to do and we will now start on that work again.”

XR Nottingham said it interrupted the meeting to “point out the committee’s current hypocrisy”.

The council declared a climate emergency earlier this year.

Campaigner John Balson, ahed 62, a mechanical engineer from St Anns, said: “I had no wish to disrupt normal council business, but I feel I have a moral duty to point out to the new members of the committee that although the council are saying all the right things about the climate emergency, the pensions committee are doing absolutely nothing. It’s terrifying.

“The climate crisis is so critical and so urgent I can’t look my daughter in the eye and say ‘I did my best’ if I just stay at home and hope it’ll be okay.”

Pensioner Rachel Adams, of Divest Notts and Extinction Rebellion, said: “These are our trusted representatives and they just don’t listen.

“It’s a real shame because we make the effort to feedback what local people think.”

The 68-year-old added: “The Chair didn’t agree to read the statement so we stood in the public gallery and one person read out the statement.

“Apart from three members, they all walked out. One member from Ashfield Independents supported us and he clapped at the end.

“They have over £100m invested in fossil fuels and we are trying to get them to sell them and put them into renewable sources.”

Councillors went on to discuss several items, including future funding of the council’s employee pension scheme.