A formal complaint has been made against a councillor who used a racial slur during a meeting.

Lyme Regis Town Councillor Cheryl Reynolds, who also sits on West Dorset District Council, used the N-word during a town council meeting in April.

The town council confirmed the derogatory term was used ‘in the context of a formerly-used phrase’ and said Cllr Reynolds issued a written apology to her fellow councillors the following morning.

But at a heated full meeting of the town council last Wednesday, for which Cllr Reynolds was not present, Cllr Jeff Scowen said the issue had been ‘buried’ as further accusations were made against Cllr Reynolds.

Fire chief Virgil Turner spoke during public forum to demand the issue be investigated and to issue a formal complaint.

It came after a week in which Mr Turner’s young son allegedly found drugs on the playing field on Anning Road. Mr Turner claims Cllr Reynolds accused him of planting them there to highlight issues surrounding the shelter.

The council had previously agreed to remove the shelter after reports of anti-social behaviour.

At the meeting, Mr Turner said: “I am concerned the councillor who is representing and working with all ages and ethnic minorities in this community is quick to make slanderous accusations and judgements without due thought, is offensive in speech, attempts to hide the truth and is deceitful. I would like my concerns to be investigated and for this statement to be taken as a formal complaint.”

Cllr Jeff Scowen backed Mr Turner’s calls for an investigation.

He said: “I’d like to ask the town council, particularly the town clerk, whether this will be given due care and attention and be properly aired. The N-word was spoken in council. Nothing has been done, nothing has been said – it has been buried. Please do not ignore it, we should look at it.”

Wednesday’s meeting - described afterwards as ‘explosive’ by county and district councillor for Lyme Daryl Turner, the brother of both Cllr Reynolds and Mr Turner – revealed a divided council.

It came to light that a letter had been issued to all councillors by mayor Michaela Ellis warning them about their behaviour on social media sites.

Cllr Brian Larcombe said that, in more than 20 years as a councillor, he had ‘never had a letter like it before.’

Cllr Stan Williams also expressed anger that he had received the letter.

“I have never been, until this council, treated badly.”

Cllr Scowen said he felt the letter was aimed at him. “It says actions adversely affect the council’s reputation,” he said. “What Cllr Reynolds has done really affects the council’s reputation.”

The News contacted Cllr Reynolds after the meeting and she did not wish to comment at this time.

Head of paid service for Dorset Councils Partnership, Stuart Caundle, said: “The councils condemn the use of racist language. If we receive complaints under the Code of Conduct about the behaviour of councillors we would deal with them in accordance with our published procedures and not comment in advance.”

Dorset Race Equality Council has condemned the councillor's language.

Chief officer Nathalie Sherring said: "At Dorset Race Equality Council we are very disappointed to hear of these incidents in which inappropriate and racially offensive language was used in council meetings.

"Those in public office have a key role to play in championing equality and diversity and need to make sure that their language is inclusive at all times.

"We are unable to comment further without additional details of these incidents. However, we are happy to offer our services to the councils involved in order to meet the training needs of their staff and elected representatives."

Dorset Race Equality Council is a community based organisation that has been working for race equality in Dorset since 1994.