Town poll to decide future of council which faced bullying claims

Attleborough mayor Philip Leslie. Picture: Courtesy of Phil Leslie

Attleborough Town Council mayor Philip Leslie - Credit: Philip Leslie

Major changes could be made to a town council which has gone through an overhaul after two councillors were accused of "harassment, bullying and intimidation".

A parish poll for Attleborough Town Council, which could mean the resignation of all its members, was meant to take place last year but because of coronavirus it was delayed and people can vote in person on July 20.

Philip Leslie, who became mayor in July last year, said there had been a root-and-branch review into how the council operates and it was focusing on green projects to benefit the community amid changes from the coronavirus lockdown and new houses planned for the town.

Attleborough town hall. Picture: Archant

Attleborough Town Hall - Credit: Archant

He added: "We need robust policies to ensure the council acts appropriately. We now work very effectively which is different from the hostile environment we had before. It is a tremendous relief we can work in a way that is beneficial for the town."

And despite the poll not being legal, Mr Leslie felt it was the council's job to let residents have their say after the motion was put forward by Tristan Ashby who represents Attleborough on Breckland Council in March last year.

But he added all members would have to agree to stand down if people wanted that.

A month before the motion, police officers had to be called to a town council meeting after 50 protestors refused to leave.

The chaotic scenes were prompted by a controversial motion to forcibly remove members Taila Taylor and Edward Tyrer, who was deputy mayor at the time, from their town council committee duties. Mr Tyrer was re-selected as deputy mayor.

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A subsequent judicial review, penned by Mr Leslie at the request of an investigation committee, found the allegations against the pair were "false" and formed part of a "malicious campaign".

They received an apology and were reinstated in July of that year.

Out of the eight councillors who were behind the false accusations, four resigned, as well as a staff member who was forced to leave their job.

Mr Leslie said the majority of the councillors and staff worked together "harmoniously" but added the four councillors who were behind the movement to get rid of the pair did not engage with council projects.

People can vote in the poll from 4pm-9pm on July 20 at Connaught Hall on Station Road, Attleborough Baptist Church on Leys Lane, the town hall on Queen's Square, and Attleborough Sports Hall on Queen's Square.