Sparks fly in furious row between Louth councillors

Sessions House in Eastgate, Louth.
Sessions House in Eastgate, Louth.

A heated argument broke out during the Public Forum ahead of the Louth Town Council meeting yesterday evening (November 11) after a Labour councillor attacked comments made by the Mayor in a recent letter published by the Leader.

Coun Laura Stephenson took issue with comments made by Coun Andrew Leonard in the letter, published in the Leader on October 29, which responded to critical comments about him in a previous letter from local resident Kate Levey.

Coun Leonard’s letter in response to Kate Levey included suggestions that “her regular ramblings in the main seem to have nothing positive to say about Louth or its inhabitants”, and that her husband Bill Nicholson was “the latest stealth weapon in the armoury of the Labour Party”.

Coun Stephenson explained that she thought the letter should have been brought to the Town Council and voted upon before being sent for publication, even though Coun Leonard had signed it as a private individual rather than as a council representative.

Coun Stephenson said: “Even if it wasn’t from you as the Mayor, as I’ve been told, then why was the Clerk copied in?

“And at the same time, it was a response to something that was a challenge to ‘the Mayor’, so you either were responding as the Mayor or you weren’t responding at all!

“This is not something that we can let happen again. It is not allowed; it is against our code of conduct for you to do this.”

Coun Stephenson also made a complaint about “nasty” comments made about the Labour Party in the letter, and added: “You see yourself as an independent, and somehow better than members of the parties.”

The Mayor responded: “I am quite happy to say what I think, I am not a glove-puppet to any political party, and I will make decisions that I want to make.

“Since I have been Mayor, it is in my opinion that you and other members of the Labour Party have done everything in your power to try and discredit me in any way you can, and I’m not going to accept that. At the end of the day, I am happy to carry on and do what I am doing in defence of Louth and the people in it.”

He continued: “When it comes to curtailing people... you mention your Labour Party colleague Mr Nicholson. When he comes round and throws an egg at my front door, do you think he ought to be a little bit more circumspect and not actually get spotted doing it? That was a childish act to do, very very childish and very disappointing.”

Coun Stephenson responded: “Very funny. A good way to get us members, actually.”

Following a heated row between Coun Horton and Coun Stephenson about whether or not a councillor is considered to be acting within the role of a councillor at all times, the Mayor declared the subject closed, adding: “You’re acting like a bloody three year old.”

Labour councillor Jack Wood then addressed the Mayor, and said: “When have I ever done anything against you, personally? I have never done anything but be nice to everybody in this room”, but the matter was declared closed without further discussion.