Wednesday's Isle of Wight Council budget meeting descended into claims of intimidation, harassment, racism and misogyny, and shouts from its chairman, at members of the public, to 'shut up'.

Scroll down for a video extract of the Isle of Wight Council meeting...

The knife-edge council is controlled by the Alliance Group, but its members are almost evenly split between 18 Conservative councillors and a collection of councillors from other parties.

After County Hall decided its 2022/23 budget on Wednesday, setting a 2.99 per cent council tax rise (including successful amendments by the Conservative party), the meeting moved to questions.

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Questions asked over claims about offensive dolls

Conservative group leader Cllr Joe Robertson said: "A question to the leader. At the beginning, in your leader's report, you went into some detail about the things you'd been doing for people in poverty, for women, for children, for vulnerable people in your ward, those in the social care system.

"Despite what's been in the press in the last four or five days, you didn't take that opportunity to say a single thing about ethnic diversity and racial equality and the importance of people from ethinic minority backgrounds for you, this Island, this council and the country.

"We've all seen the image you posted on Facebook in November last year. In the foreground, your dogs are asleep and in the background is a display of racially offensive dolls. Yesterday, a friend of yours put on Facebook that you'd had a collection of golly dolls for as long as she could remember.

"As leader of the council, please can you explain whether those dolls were displayed in your home in November. You shared the image in public. Silence is not an acceptable answer."

See the full meeting on video HERE

How did the Isle of Wight council leader respond?

In response, Cllr Lora Peacey Wilcox said: "I had no prior notice of this question and will not answer because it is not a matter about budget, policy, nor something for which this council has responsibility."

In a statement to the County Press last week, she said they were not in her home.

Responding, Chair of the council, Cllr Geoff Brodie, said: "I would disagree. The policy of this council regarding equality and diversity is fundamental to what we do as a council. I think it is incumbent on you to provide a response."

There were angry reactions from members of the public and shouting from both sides of the chamber.

Isle of Wight County Press: The photo was of dogs, but the background display has become the focus of the claims.The photo was of dogs, but the background display has become the focus of the claims.

Calls came to suspend the meeting, over claims of harassment, bullying and "absolutely disgraceful behaviour" and members of the public in the gallery also became very vocal.

Addressing the public gallery, Cllr Brodie said: "Will you shut up, or you will be removed. You will be removed unless you shut up.

"I will not be threatened by you, sir. I don't know who you are. I will report you to the police." 

Temporarily leaving the meeting, Cllr Julie Jones Evans said, "misogyny is a hate crime," to which Cllr Robertson said, "What about ethnic minorities?"

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What happened after the Isle of Wight Council meeting was adjourned?

The meeting was adjourned after the public gallery was cleared.

When it resumed, Cllr Robertson asked the question again, following it up with a comment that had Cllr Peacey Wilcox been in London, she would have had to resign.

Fellow Conservative, Cllr Suzie Ellis asked: "Leader, do you recognise that golly dolls, seen in an image shared on your Facebook page last year, are offensive and will you apologise for causing offence?"

Cllr Peacey Wilcox said she would respond to the questions in writing.

Cllr Brodie called the leader's responses "tedious" and "disturbing" and said: "If equality and diversity is not crucial to the policies of this council I would be seriously concerned, in the 21st century."

Cllr Warren Drew called the earlier shouting from the public gallery "scandolous" and said it was not about Cllr Peacey Wilcox as an idividual, "but about democracy."

At the start of the meeting, Cllr Peacey Wilcox spoke about carrying a personal alarm for her safety.