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‘People are angry and fed up’ - council’s future up for debate as ‘bullying’ row continues

PUBLISHED: 16:06 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:53 12 March 2020

Attleborough Town Council and mayor Tony Crouch have accused councillors Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of

Attleborough Town Council and mayor Tony Crouch have accused councillors Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of "harassment, bullying and intimidation. Picture: Sonya Duncan/Breckland Council

Sonya Duncan/Breckland Council

The future of a divided council could become clearer as residents seek a resolution to the “bullying” row which has cast a shadow over their town.

Taila Taylor Taila Taylor "categorically denies" allegations of bullying made her against her and fellow Attleborough town councillor, Ed Tyrer. Picture: Breckland Council

Following a turbulent few weeks, Attleborough's electorate has been invited to have its say on the burning issue of the year during a parish meeting at Connaught Hall on Thursday (March 12) evening.

It takes place amid a heated saga within Attleborough Town Council (ATC) which has seen two members, Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer, stripped of their committee roles over 'harassment, bullying and intimidation'.

Both strongly deny the accusations and have vowed to clear their names.

Attleborough mayor Tony Crouch (pictured) has accused Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of Attleborough mayor Tony Crouch (pictured) has accused Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer of "bullying". Picture: Archant

Despite members of the public being permitted to grill ATC at a full council meeting on Monday (March 9), mayor Tony Crouch refused to discuss the origin and nature of the alleged bullying in an open forum.

Later on during proceedings, it was revealed more than £13,750 has been spent on the services of a solicitor in recent months, with another £660 spent on security staff for two previous meetings.

MORE: Protesters rally in support of councillors accused of 'bullying'

Under a cloud of uncertainty, a significant turnout is expected at Thursday's meeting, organised - among others - by one of Attleborough's Breckland councillors, Tristan Ashby.

Attleborough's parish meeting will take place at Connaught Hall amid the ongoing 'bullying' saga. Picture: ArchantAttleborough's parish meeting will take place at Connaught Hall amid the ongoing 'bullying' saga. Picture: Archant

'I've been inundated with people saying they are angry and fed up,' said Mr Ashby. 'As Monday's meeting showed, when the public gets the opportunity to ask questions, answers are not forthcoming and that just adds to the frustration and the confusion.

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'It's not just about the 'bullying' issue. Things have not been running well for a good 12 to 18 months, and this has brought everything to a head.

Attleborough's parish meeting was organised by Breckland councillor Tristan Ashby, among others. Picture: Breckland CouncilAttleborough's parish meeting was organised by Breckland councillor Tristan Ashby, among others. Picture: Breckland Council

'The public needs an opportunity to air their views and have their questions answered.'

Likely to emerge from tonight's meeting is a parish poll on the town's council's future, which would see a question asked to the electorate in the style of a referendum.

A petition started by Mr Ashby and fellow Breckland councillor, Rhodri Oliver, has gained more than 800 signatures having called for the entire council to resign.

Attleborough Town Council convened on March 9 amid the ongoing 'bullying' saga which has seen Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer removed from committee duties. Picture: ArchantAttleborough Town Council convened on March 9 amid the ongoing 'bullying' saga which has seen Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer removed from committee duties. Picture: Archant

Miss Taylor, who has herself called for re-elections, believes any eventual parish poll in Attleborough is likely to follow a similar theme.

'I'm assuming it will be closely linked to the petition which, in my opinion, already carries so much weight,' added Miss Taylor. 'More people have signed it than actually voted for any of the existing councillors.

'Whichever way the electorate votes on a parish poll, it is so hard to ignore. Legally you can ignore it, but morally I don't know whether you should. As a council we have a code of conduct to best represent our residents.'

Ed Tyrer has been removed from committee duties by Attleborough Town Council following claims of Ed Tyrer has been removed from committee duties by Attleborough Town Council following claims of "bullying" that he says are completely untrue". Picture: Attleborough Town Council

MORE: Police investigate malicious communications report towards town council

Mr Ashby added: 'Those 15 councillors are not working together and I don't think they ever will, which is why the petition asked for everybody to resign and to have a fresh vote.

'People have been asking what they can do and, while a parish poll is non-binding, it is doing something. What's clear is that we cannot go on like this.'

A spokesman for Attleborough Town Council confirmed Mr Crouch and town clerk Gina Lopes would not be attending Thursday's meeting, but would instead 'preside' at an 'official' parish meeting on Monday, March 16.

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