A WOMAN who became an unlikely social media sensation after a parish council meeting went viral was a guest speaker at a Hexham meeting.

Jackie Weaver, made famous by the Handforth Parish Council recording which saw councillors trade insults and be removed from a virtual call, was the keynote speaker at the fifth OpenHexham public meeting on Wednesday, April 14.

Ms Weaver discussed what makes a good parish council and also took questions from attendees.

As part of the address, she also gave her view on the potential power of town councils in the community.

Commenting on the meeting, Ariane Baty, OpenHexham candidate for Leazes Ward, said: “We were delighted to welcome Jackie Weaver to speak to Hexham residents about the importance of proactive, dynamic local democracy.”

OpenHexham is fielding nine independent candidates for election to Hexham Town Council and aims to replicate the success seen in other parts of the country by adopting the principles of ‘flatpack democracy’ to ensure a group of residents unbound by party political dogma are elected in.

In place of a party manifesto, the group has published its ‘Ways of Working’, committing its candidates to the core principles of independence, integrity, positivity, creativity and respect.

Representing a broad cross-section of the community, the OpenHexham group ranges in age from 26 to 68 and includes teachers, a stay-at-home mum, a labourer and a retired person.

But they say, they are all are bound by their passion for the town and a hope to bring about real, sustained change to the way local politics is done.

Local elections are due to take place on May 6 for county council and town council seats. The Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the Hexham planning referendum will also go ahead on the same day.

The Jackie Weaver-staring meeting was held via Zoom call.