A Bromley Council environmental meeting was disrupted last night after Extinction Rebellion (XR) members attempted to protest peacefully.

All councillors present (exception of Cllr Ian Dunn) walked out of the room during the XR intervention, which was not on the environment and community services agenda.

Portfolio holder, councillor William Huntington-Thresher, was forced to pull out of the meeting due to sickness which also inspired controversy on Twitter.

Andrew Ruck was among residents who submitted questions to the council in advance and was denied the opportunity to have it answered at the meeting.

However, Bromley Council insist the question will be answered via email today and Mr Ruck and others will have an opportunity to write a follow up enquiry.

Extinction Rebellion apologised for disrupting the meeting but argued that it was a "minor inconvenience" compared to climate change.

A Bromley XR spokesman said: "While we are sorry for the disruption caused at the meeting, this is very much a minor inconvenience in the context of the climate and ecological catastrophes that we are living through.

"We felt obliged to share our understanding and fears of this existential threat."

Mr Ruck told News Shopper he sympathised with councillors who staged a walk out in what was a "tricky situation".

However, he argued that the climate change issue was more important than parking problems, despite the set agenda.

Bromley Council confirmed the meeting was adjourned because of a verbal protest.

Referring to Cllr Huntington-Thresher's absence, a spokesman added: "It was highly unusual and unfortunate that the portfolio holder was unable to attend through illness, with medical advice on the infectious aspects necessitating this decision, which was made a few hours before the meeting.

"In the short space of time available, we tried to make contact with the eight questioners prior to the meeting to advise them and as the questions were for solely for the portfolio holder, rather than not respond, written responses are being sent to questioners, with an explanation and apology for the circumstances."

The absence sparked a debate on Twitter with Cllr Nicky Dykes writing: "Are you seriously annoyed the portfolio was ill.

"Cllrs get ill too. If extinction rebellion wanted to engage why not be more constructive rather than antagonistic. Weird way to try and work cooperatively."

Cllr Will Harmer also hit out at a suggestion himself and Cllr Huntington-Thresher "pulled a sickie".

He wrote: "Please delete this unsubstantiated lie."

Julie Ireland, Bromley Liberal Democrats campaigner, said it was "unacceptable" for questions to be disallowed because of the portfolio holder’s absence.

Speaking about the disruption, she added to News Shopper: "The members who Extinction Rebellion made their statement respectfully and eloquently and it is a shame that none of the councillors (except Cllr Dunn) stayed to listen to their views once the meeting was suspended."

The spokesperson for Bromley XR said the group wants the council to declare a climate emergency.

A statement added: "In accordance with the virtues of truth and the weight of scientific evidence, we believe that the council has a moral responsibility to declare a climate emergency and an ambitious, far-reaching transition to carbon neutrality.

"We will continue to act in peace, with ferocious love of these lands in our hearts. We act on behalf of life."

The next environmental meeting at Bromley Council will be in November.