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Argument breaks out at council meeting
FORMAL complaints have been made to West Dorset District Council following chaotic scenes at a Lyme Regis full council meeting.
Just weeks after the town clerk warned in-fighting between the councillors was harming the town, shocked members of the public witnessed angry scenes between members.
Now both the council and the mayor have made it clear that aggressive and intimidating behaviour will not be tolerated and the district council will mount an inquiry.
There were several heated debates between councillors at the stormy meeting, as issues over the recording of minutes delayed proceedings.
In one clash, Coun Daryl Turner took exception to the minutes of the previous meeting and called into question their accuracy.
Pointing at the notes administrative officer Adrianne Mullins was taking down, he said the minutes should be taken in longhand not shorthand.
As Mrs Mullins tried to respond by shaking her head and saying they didn’t, Coun Turner pointed at her and said: “I’m not talking to you.”
This drew gasps from other councillors and members of the public and as Coun Turner continued, Coun Terry O’Grady called for him to sit down as he was ‘out of order’.
Mayor Sally Holman was forced to step in, reminding councillors to remain respectful at all times to officers, fellow councillors and members of the public.
During an adjournment, members of the public were left open-mouthed and Coun Rikey Austin tried to calm the situation as Coun O’Grady swore and shouted at Coun Turner.
Lara Altree, deputy monitoring officer at West Dorset District Council, said: “The district council does consider complaints made about councillors from parish and town councils across West Dorset.
“We have received complaints in relation to councillors at Lyme Regis Town Council over the last week and they will now be considered.”
Deputy town clerk Mark Tredwin said: “The meeting of the full council was very heated at points and I am aware concerns have been voiced regarding the behaviour in the chamber.
“This is being investigated and it would not be appropriate to comment further on this aspect.
“The officers of the council adhere to the principle that all members of staff should be working in an environment that is free from intimidation and threatening behaviour and we will work to ensure that this continues.
“At no time will bullying and intimidation of members of staff be considered acceptable.”
Mayor Sally Holman said: “Unfortunately there were several breaches of the code of conduct and the standing orders in the last meeting.
“Any aggressive behaviour that breaches the code of conduct is not acceptable, whether it’s in the meeting or outside of the meeting in the break.”
Speaking to the Lyme Regis News, Coun Terry O’Grady said: “The meeting is under investigation but what I will say is I have apologised to the town mayor for my behaviour at the meeting and for my outburst.”
Coun Turner said: “I don't feel my speech was aggressive. I did ‘snap’ at the officer who interrupted me, I felt the officer’s action inappropriate and rude.
"There is a procedure for speaking at meeting, interruption is not one. I have however apologised for this.
"On the issue of swearing, which I feel is not acceptable anywhere, using the F word 5 times in a chamber is something I have never come across in many years as a councillor. This may be viewed as a public order offence. The councillors options are limited."
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