Councillor wielded axe to protect home on night of London riots terror

Axe-carrying Belsize councillor Jonny Bucknell remembers a night when law and order broke down

At times we joked about plunging the axe into the head of anyone who had irritated us.

After the election I decided the axe should become a mascot, like the mayor’s mace, so I bought one.

On the night of August 6, 2011 I saw news picture of riots kicking off in Tottenham and when I heard there was trouble in Chalk Farm I grabbed the axe and cycled over to take a look.

My plan was to stand on the bridge and ward off the rioters who were coming up to Primrose Hill.

Shortly afterwards I had a call to say there was a gang of kids roaming my ward in Belsize. It did not take long to track them down and at first sight they were ordinary middle class kids.

When I pulled over and suggested they should be at home they started running towards me, with one grabbing me and only letting go when I accelerated away, pedalling for my life.

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I finally ended up back on my doorstep in Primrose Hill and sent a text to my friend saying: “This is surreal. Law and order has broken down and I am sitting on the doorstep of my home ready to protect it and the area by swinging an axe around. I would not kill anyone but I bet looters would flee.”

Will it ever happen again?

Police were outnumbered and the first rule of policing is that you don’t put yourself in danger but wait for assistance to arrive. The officers who held “the thin blue line” displayed immense bravery that night.

I can’t see them being caught outnumbered again. The good news is that police patrol cars will soon carry tasers and I hope this will lead to less need to call in the armed response units.

I was later told off for carrying an axe but applauded by some residents.

I would love to believe that riding though Primrose Hill with an axe on the pannier of my bike spooked the looters and prevented the village from being fire-bombed. We will never know.