FIVE councillors marched out of a Bembridge Parish Council meeting in protest last night (Tuesday).

The councillors, elected under the name Open Bembridge, left the finance and assets committee meeting after Cllr Madeleine Reeder tried to read a statement from their group, but was shut down by committee chair, Cllr Richard Weaver.

She refused to stop and Cllr Weaver said if she didn't sit down he would have to ask her to leave. At that point, Cllrs Reeder, Steane, Curtis, Hopkinson-Woolley and Millington all got up and walked out.

As a result, the most contentious part of the meeting — a discussion over whether to redevelop or sell parish council asset 5/7 High Street, Bembridge — was deferred for a month, because the councillors left in the room felt they could not make a decision without the input of the five absent councillors.

Cllr Weaver said: "I would like to apologise on behalf of the council for the conduct of our councillors.

"I was very interested to hear their opinions on the options before us for 5/7 High Street.

"I am flabbergasted. I think this is unbelievable. They left without giving any indication of their opinions."

In the group's statement, which was handed to the County Press, Open Bembridge said: "We have been excluded from any discussions, meetings or emails about the project.

"Aside from very minor side issues, we have only become aware of developments at the same time as the public when meeting agendas are issued three days before a meeting.

"We have therefore been given no opportunity to input into developing proposals, or sufficient time to consider our views and consult before those meetings.

"The principle of openness and transparency has obviously not been applied.

"Given that we have been excluded from all internal parish council meetings, we believe that tonight's decisions have already been taken by the majority group and that this meeting is just to formally agree them.

"We feel unable to participate in what is clearly a fait accompli. We are unwilling to give these decisions any credence by being complicit in them.

"We feel that we have no choice but to state that we absolve ourselves from any responsibility or vicarious liability for these decisions.

"We are not resigning our positions, just withdrawing temporarily."

The decision was deferred.