Former Mayor alleges shocking behaviour towards women in politics after being told to “shut up” at Penketh Parish Council meeting


VIDEO: THE ongoing issues at Penketh Parish Council boiled over again this week, when veteran Labour Cllr and former Mayor of Warrington Linda Dirir, was told to “shut up” during an outburst from independent Cllr Geoff Fellows.

During a part two item of last Wednesday’s parish council meeting discussing the non-payment of VAT on pool hires at Penketh Pool, Cllr Fellows, who was not thought to be in attendance due to pecuniary interest, came online while Cllr Dirir was speaking, saying “We’ve listened to your voice long enough” and “do you just want to shut up.”
A post was later put on the Penketh Fact Checker Facebook group announcing the outburst as “Shocking Behaviour towards women in politics” with Cllr Dirir saying she is now afraid to attend her parish surgery alone and that other female Cllrs and the clerk “feel a sense of dread” as meetings approach.

The latest incident occurred when the parish council was discussing non-payment of VAT on the hiring of the pool (a council building) for Cllr Fellow’s swimming business Puddle Penguins.
Penketh Parish Council, who run the pool as a business, say non-payment of VAT is potentially a crime and HMRC are now involved and that either Cllr Fellows will have to pay over 4k which is owed to HMRC or the Parish Council (Penketh Taxpayer) will have to pay the bill.
After the meeting, Cllr. Dirir said: “The bullying and intimidation we older Councillors have experienced from three male Independents who are half our ages has been intolerable over the last two years.
“It is not what we signed up to when we stood to become volunteer Parish Councillors.
“This has occurred on their social media pages at our own homes and covertly in the Part two meetings of the Council.
“Women have suffered in particular at their hand. Other female Councillors and myself feel a sense of dread as these meetings approach and I know our female Clerk feels exactly the same and has suffered panic attacks.
“She is our third female clerk within two years (since the Independents have been on the Council).
“Before the Pandemic when physical meetings were taking place female colleagues and I have left the meeting in tears on a number of occasions and were always visibly shaken at the end of the meetings.
“I am still feeling the effects after Wednesday’s meeting with the Geoff Fellows’ outburst.
“He was not supposed to be in the zoom meeting at that point as he had declared an interest because of his business at the pool. He just burst in, face close to the screen with a shocking tirade against me whilst I was actually speaking.
Cllr Dirir added: “Just to note, prior to the Pandemic, I had felt unsafe holding my Parish Council surgery alone in the meeting room with any of the male Independent Councillors and I have had to use the Library staff room as an alternative. Women make up half the population yet are very much underrepresented in public office.
“How on earth will this ever change if this bullying and intimidation of women is allowed to continue?
In response Cllr Fellows, who says his only regret was losing his manners and not saying “please,” said: “Anyone who understands the basic transaction of a sale, in this case venue hire, will know that if VAT is due to be charged it is clearly stated on price points, invoices and receipts from the supplier. I don’t believe that any of the six businesses operating from the centre in an identical way to me are liable to pay for mistakes in accounting that are the responsibility of the Management, the bookkeeper and the Clerk. Since this issue was first highlighted, I have told Cllr Dirir on a number of occasions and reported back to the council within four weeks to help the Council resolve this carry over issue from the Interim Audit in 2020.
“The Clerk acting as Responsible officer simply does not understand basic accountancy and as a result by continuing to push with this false allegation in a bid to publicly shame me when I have done nothing wrong. Linda Dirir is blindly overlooking the most recent thirteen serious issues of financial mismanagement which the controlling party are responsible for, values now reaching in excess of £100,000 on multiple unauthorised spends and she has homed in on this item which is actually highlighting more of the Council’s failings!
“The meeting viewed on Wednesday evening that I broadcast live in my attempt to continue to strive for openness and transparency in this Council has been exceptionally popular with residents and non-residents tuning in to observe how Independents are treated in the Council as a standard and it highlights failures of the chairman to ensure a fair process of debate takes place by constantly interrupting when Independent’s attempt to speak, after patiently waiting for the opportunity to add true value to the meeting.”
Cllr Fellows says he was forced to interrupt Cllr Diri at the point she claimed that Great Sankey Parish only posted out a 2-sided document and it costs totalled £6,000.
“Upon having a copy of the 6-sided newsletter to hand and being able to inform the council that the cost to the newsletter was £2,300 and is delivered to a lot more houses, was just the first of many untruths that were spoken that evening.
“The Part two clip omitted to show how much bullying had taken place prior to what was submitted to the fact-checker page and yes, I had had enough, my only regret was losing my manners as I should have said “please.”
I think it’s a cheap attempt from the Penketh Labour branch to discredit, but this bears no comparison to the two foul language outburst by Cllr Simm towards the end of 2020 which was unprovoked and uncalled for.
“Whilst I do indeed support International women’s day and I did state that there was too many to name in one post, I do not class Linda Dirir as someone who fits the category in my opinion – anyone who uses their gender or a national awareness celebration to detract from being called out against their lies and failings is not a hero in my book. They are the bully and should be called out for “playing the victim.”
“I have strong concerns of the councillors with the connection to the fact-checker page as there have now been clear breaches of council information on a number of occasions. This latest leak indicates that until we know who it is, every single member of the Labour party on the Parish Council and the Clerk, who has personal links with Cllr Amanda King can not be trusted.
“This also applies to Cllr David Keane who is all too familiar with cases of bullying with his role of Police and Crime Commissioner which he had obviously lost my trust from very early on, this page now actually incriminates and discredits them all by default.”
This latest incident is one of many ongoing at Penketh Parish Council, which hit the national headlines after the former Chairman’s outburst.

Cllr Fellows and Cllr Dirir on the Zoom meeting

Penketh Parish Council Chair stands down


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Chair of Warrington Healthwatch Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. It will be interesting to see which among those gets voted back in come May. This was a complete farce and the apparent issuing of an invoice/bill without VAT indicates either stupidity or negligence, or who know perhaps both! I wonder at times how many are councillors for the purpose of genuinely serving their local community and how many are there purely to satisfy their own ego.

  2. Wow usually former Mayor is me. I can’t believe what I am reading. As a former Parish Councillor I never experienced a performance like this. Ok there were a few ding songs that was with youths ba going on the community centre window. The Police or Cllr Oliver would go out and bring calm to the situation. We never experienced this sort of behaviour. As a former Mayor I did and I didn’t take it lying down.

  3. Typical of the controlling Labour councillors, selectively showing a part of the video that suits them, why are they not so keen to share with us the full meetings. Answer our questions on how money is spent, the closure of the pool and so much more. Funny how they are anonymous there’s a word for people like them ….. keyboard warriors and the real bullies! Do not vote Labour back into Penketh this May! We need a change.

    • That doesn’t excuse the way the man’s behaviour came across
      You may condone such action I don’t. Maybe he will reflect and apologise but I don’t think so with supporters like you 👹

      • Stupid rats writing the articles as usual, little decrepit slaves who manipulate anything to force a narrative. In no way does this have anything to do with the attitude or mistreatment of women, just because she is a woman. Get a life, you failed journalists.

        • You think I’m worried by someone who thinks they are posting anonymously – Typical deluded keyboard warrior. People like you keep people like me going! I can choose to write what I want, when I want and earn a decent living from it and have done so for more than 40 years. So if that is failure long live failure – and I’ve got a great life thanks. Ps I suspect rats have more intelligence than you!

        • I cannot feed your wanton need for validation “Anonymous” All I can say is if you need any help to fulfill this need then please do so.

          Just because you denounce other people that doesn’t mean you do not deserve the same support that evert human being does.

          Gary and others on this site are wholesome individuals who do not deserve to subject to this abuse.

          You obviously have a need for a response so I suggest you seek help from local services and not hide behind your keyboard or a false name.

          Come out and discuss your concerns logically and sensibly like the good person I am sure you are.

        • Agreed, sloppy writing jumping on a band wagon!
          this was an individual, not a representative of mankind.

          a man shouting at a woman, is not evidence of men’s attitude in politics towards women. As I said elsewhere, Its trendy at the moment to blame men as a generic identity. sad that the “keyboard warrior” Skentelbury cant take criticism where it is valid.

          please in the context of this video show how this is the attitude of all the men present in the video or accept that your intended narrative is not apparent in the context of this entire video…and therefore you have applied a context which is not there…ergo bad journalism.

          put up or shut up!

          • So reporting on an event that occurred and is available for all to see doesn’t fit with your personal view. Well that’s life. Gary’s reporting is the most unbiased and non-judgemental I’ve come across in my 70+ years, giving airtime to all parties, if and when they choose to offer comment.

          • I’m not jumping on any bandwagon – just reporting both sides of an ongoing argument – and if you are going to insult me please have the decency of picking up the telephone – and more importantly, spell my name right or at the very least provide your correct email address so I can correspond with you properly if you feel you have a genuine grievance.

          • We would like to think these awful men are in the minority however there seem to be quite a few in Penketh. Nobody said they represent all men in this article so you have jumped to that conclusion . What needs to be addressed is that this is rife in local politics, particularly in Penketh right now.

            If this happened anywhere in the corporate or business setting the individual would face disciplinary action . These rogue Independents don’t have a party to answer to so can do what they like. If you are a decent “one ” (which I suspect you are judging by your desire to disassociate yourself from this) please do help to speak out about it when it is present rather than turn on the journalist who has reported it. Whatever the setting ( and I work in the corporate sector myself ) as women we need more men like you to say its a disgrace in order for the bullies to change. I’m fairly sure you wouldn’t want your wife or daughter spoken to like this.

    • Dear ” Anonymous”

      Not a only are you a coward but we clearly have a very vicious troll here. Your language is shocking and you should be ashamed of yourself. You should think twice before you spout this poison. This journalist is a very professional and fair individual who is very well respected within the media industry and the community. You have no right to say such insults. I can only imagine you are without your own profession or job and have nothing to do all day but troll. You need to get yourself a life. Perhaps do some voluntary work and give a little back to society. People like you are often jealous of someone who is very successful in what he does. It’s very sad indeed.

  4. Maybe I’m being dense, but how has a video of part 2 been released when instructions from the clerk to councillors are given that all live streams need to cease and video recording is not permitted?

    (lifted from the parish councils Facebook page:


    Part 2
    (Confidential Part 2 note all live streams must be disconnected and recordings are not permitted, The Chair will address the Council)

    L Burey
    Clerk to Council

    I’ve removed the agenda items so you can see the point.

    • Exactly Stephen, they’ve also left out the bit where Cllr Ray McKay ( Chairman of part 1 but then has to put his hand up) actually confirmed that Cllr Fellows DID NOT owe VAT, he’d already paid it and this is yet another monumental screw up by the self titled ” controlling group”. The fact that Linda Dirir has then still gone on to post it on a ” FAKE TROLLING PAGE” and write to Warrington Worldwide speaks volumes. Penketh Labour, for all of their 20 years so called experience really need some code of conduct training.

  5. Michael Potts – the “Penketh Troll ” (as he is known) . Not entirely sure you are in a position to be making these comments considering you pretty much trolled everyone who crossed your path in Penketh for years ( even those who didnt ) . You are a very nasty man . I’m actually a cons voter but I’ve been disgusted at you and your pals behaviour in recent years. Your mate above is dodgy – simple as . He shouldn’t even have a business in that pool as a Borough Councillor – how corrupt is that ?? !
    And now you have decided to switch from Ind to Cons I’m even more angry that the party took someone like you on . You are very odd indeed and the whole of Penketh has witnessed your antics in recent years. A grade one bully . To see what you did to that poor clerk ” speaks volumes “. Cons party should be ashamed of themselves for bringing a bully like you in . We expect it from Penketh Independents but not from a party that is as respected as the Cons party . Many I’ve spoken to wont be voting for you and certainly not your dodgy mate Geoff

    • I’d never spoken to the Clerk so please get your facts in order before spouting rubbish. The “Clerk” didn’t apply for the job, she was selected by the controlling group, the sister of Amanda Kings (now independent 😅) mate. How dodgy was that. Fled as soon as the controlling group were removed. I’ve returned here just to highlight that dispite multiple emails with Gary and the defenders in here claiming how professional he is, I’ve informed him many times that IPSO who regulate the press, ruled in favour of Cllr Fellows. And a correction had to be applied to the article they reported on, which originated here. Gary, and Warrington Worldwide don’t subscribe to IPSO. And he’s decided to leave this factually incorrect story on here. How Dodgy is that?. I’ve nothing personally against Gary, I just wish he’d do the reasonable thing, admit it was wrong, and either delete or add a correction.

      Just imagine if this was you or your family who had been targeted this way by someone and how you would feel, after volunteering quietly in your community since being a child, and then things like this are printed about you, when you are in fact the victim.

      An article headlined “Penketh Parish Council: Cllr told to ‘shut up’ in meeting”, published on 17 March 2021 reported claims regarding Cllr Geoff Fellows made by another councillor following a Penketh Parish Council meeting, including the suggestion that an auditor for the council had “insisted” that Cllr Fellows was invoiced for the sum of £4,500 in relation to the hiring of the Parish pool. To clarify, the audit report in question does not include this finding. This clarification has been published following an upheld ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

  6. Just on a point of order the IPSO findings you have linked to, relate to an article in another news publication. I have always offered a right of reply to Cllr Fellows (as he is clearly quoted above) and ran further articles providing his side of the story. I never received any emails from you regarding the findings of IPSO and if you wish to pursue this further please email me the clarification you would like to add to the foot of the article. You state you have nothing personally against me or Warrington Worldwide and yet during all your time in public office you have never communicated with us with your work in the local community – and since the independents took control we have had zero contact from the Parish Council. In comparison, we work closely with other Parish Councils including Lymm and Culcheth & Glazebury, who actually invest in us to help communicate effectively with their local communities as a trusted news source. Maybe it is time for you to bury the hatchet and invite me in to discuss how to effectively communicate with your electorate and gain their trust? I look forward to your reply.

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