‘We are far more united’ - new mayor at warring town council speaks out

Philip Leslie, the new mayor of Attleborough. Picture: Courtesy of Phil Leslie

Philip Leslie, the new mayor of Attleborough. Picture: Courtesy of Phil Leslie - Credit: Archant

The new mayor of a town council left in turmoil after bitter rows and legal action has said they have gone from being a “hot topic of debate” to now “barely getting a mention on social media”.

Attleborough Town Council was beset by infighting after a series of extraordinary meetings, claims of bullying and police attendance.

However, new mayor Philip Leslie has spoken out about the “significant issues”, and said “our reputation is getting better.”

The area’s district councillors previously ‘called-in’ the issue for discussion at Breckland Council.

Speaking at a district scrutiny committee meeting, held on Thursday, September 10, Mr Leslie said there were “significant issues with the operation of the town council which caused hostilities within the community”.

READ MORE: ‘What goes around comes around’ - outgoing mayor launches staggering attack on councillors and residents

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He said a “division” resulted in legal action against the council, which was being “buried” by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by “people unhappy with representation and transparency”.

But he added: “When we were going through the dramatic period of time we were having, we had several hundred view the live stream and several hundred view it afterwards just for good fun.

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“On Monday we had a meeting and we peaked at 34. We’ve obviously become a little bit more boring but a lot more efficient.

“We barely get a mention on social media any more, when we were a hot topic of debate almost every day. I consider that a success. Our profile might be going down but our reputation hopefully is getting better.”

READ MORE: Town council in ‘bullying’ row sees latest meeting abandoned and police called

Mr Leslie said the council was “far more united” with almost all councillors taking part in mediation between the two sides.

He said his priority was “areas of real concern”, which included: the council personnel committee, discretionary expenditure, press releases, solicitors’ fees, general operation, and “live streamed meetings to great entertainment”.

The new leadership is carrying out a “root and branch” review, he added, and said the council would later have a full policy review of standing orders, and aim to create a “community-led” town council.

An investigation committee has also been drawn up, but Mr Leslie said legal action was “drawing to a close very shortly” and there had been no new FOI requests since he took over as mayor.

He added that while some staff viewed the scrutiny committee’s involvement as “obstructive” he saw it as a necessary part of the process of resolving issues.

READ MORE: Councillors deny claims of ‘harassment, bullying and intimidation’ after meeting chaos

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