Warring town council sent ‘extraordinary’ legal letter over row meeting
PUBLISHED: 19:03 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 19:03 17 July 2020
A town council embroiled in a series of bitter rows and disputes replied to an invitation to discuss the issue with an “extraordinary” legal letter, it has emerged.
Attleborough Town Council has spent months at the centre of a storm of “bullying” accusations, police involvement and disputes over governance and democracy.
And the council, which is set to elect a new mayor and deputy at a meeting on Monday, declined to send a representative to a scrutiny meeting at Breckland Council, and instead chose to respond via a solicitor’s letter.
Rhodri Oliver, chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “The town council responded to the invitation to send a representative to this meeting using an external third party solicitor, which is obviously extraordinary given the cost to the taxpayer.”
He added: “In February and March there was a parish meeting with around 200 residents, who unanimously requested parish polls - one was asking for the resignation of every councillor and the other was asking for the town council to carry out an investigation into its policies.
“That was something I’ve never seen happen before. It went some way to show the depth of feeling.”
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The heated rows began earlier in the year when councillors Taila Taylor and Ed Tyrer had their committee roles stripped over claims of “harassment, bullying and intimidation” - allegations the pair have always strongly denied.
The dispute has seen a council meeting evacuated following a fire, a police investigation into “malicious communications” and a panel formed to probe the saga which left the town in disarray.
Speaking at the scrutiny meeting, Tristan Ashby, district councillor for Attleborough, said he was “very disappointed” no one from the town hall had attended, and added: “There are despairing comments every day from residents who feel they are hitting their head against a brick wall.”
Mr Tyrer and Miss Taylor both addressed the scrutiny meeting.
Mr Tyrer, deputy mayor, said there were communication and openness issues at the council.
He said: “I’m probably as much in the dark as the population of Attleborough. I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know what decisions are made financially to spend money. The chair has quite frankly refused to talk to me.”
While Miss Taylor said FOIs to the town council were unanswered and added: “There really is a problem within the town.”