CLIMATE change protestors stormed into Swindon Borough Council to interrupt a mayor making ceremony and call on the council to declare a climate emergency.

Disguised as a gift for the new mayor, Extinction Rebellion got into the chambers and let off three helium balloons into the rafter of the chamber. Attached were familiar slogans and symbols of the protest group.

Shouts came from councillors, including some who questioned if the balloons were even biodegradable.

Despite a strong security presence at the meeting, Extinction Rebellion distracted the guards, to allow protester John Ranford’s clear path into the council chambers to deliver the balloons. Previous protests have seen the group glue themselves to their chairs at Gloucester Council and strip off in the Houses of Common.

Speaking afterwards, he said; “There was angry silence from them but I am glad that we were able to deliver the message that things need to change.”

Speaking during the meeting’s public questions, Helen Harris of Extinction Rebellion said: “Last time we were here Cllr Williams said it was up to the Government and the majority of individuals to make the changes necessary. Since then parliament has declared a Climate Emergency. If he still feels the same is he prepared to step down to make way for a citizen climate agency to take over.”

Cllr Keith Williams said: “Our end goal is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The specific wording and jumping on a bandwagon is not important. What want to effect real change not grab a headline. It’s about everybody engaging and influencing a vast majority.”

The full council meeting, held yesterday afternoon, was taking place for the council to appoint a new mayor for Swindon. Outgoing mayor Junab Ali will be replaced by Dorcan councillor Kevin Parry.

Mayor Parry said Swindon’s manufacturing history proves the town will “rise again” following Honda’s announcement that it will progress with plans to close production in the town.

His chosen charities are the Swindon and North Wiltshire Deaf Children Society and Swindon Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement (CALM).

Speaking as Swindon’s new mayor, Cllr Parry said: “Swindon has a rich car manufacturing history and I am proud to have worked at Honda for 25 years. This town can do anything, it has built trains, planes and automobiles. This is why Swindon will rise again after the Honda closure, just like we have in the past.The reasons behind my charities are they are local and all money will go straight to helping children. No child should have to face cancer or leukaemia.”

Outgoing mayor Junab Abdul was praised from across political parties for his work to bring communities together.

Cllr Ali raised £16k for charity during his mayoral year and Cllr Abdul Amin said: “As the first British Bangladeshi mayor you have made the community proud, you have made the whole of Swindon proud. You set up the mayors marathon where many businesses and 28 schools have taken part in this marathon. It was a great way to encourage schools to become more involved in local events.

“When you first became mayor you expressed a wish to bring together many cultures. Within weeks you invited people from all faith to a local mosque and this is one example of bringing people of all faiths together.”