AYLESBURY Vale District Council has been rocked by allegations of homophobia after police were called to investigate claims a prominent councillor had been verbally abused.
Four Conservative councillors have been reported to police over an alleged nickname given to Lib Dem boss Steven Lambert , who heads the main opposition party at the district council. All four have strenuously denied making the comments.
The Vale’s most senior officer, Supt George Wrigley, is set to meet bosses on Thursday, after the alleged comments were recorded by a Conservative party insider.
Mr Lambert has passed the names to police, claiming informal efforts to resolve the problem at the council had failed.
It is claimed that the nickname ‘Lily’ in reference to Mr Lambert was used once at May’s election count in the Waterside Theatre, and three times at group meetings at AVDC’s Gatehouse Road headquarters in July.
Mr Lambert reported the allegations informally to senior council officers in October, and made a statement to police earlier this month.
The Liberal Democrat group leader said: “It’s about equality, but I’m clearly seen as different, and people feel it’s acceptable to use nicknames.
“I’ve been out for nearly 20 years, this is me and it’s something I can’t change. It’s something that should be out of bounds.”
Mr Lambert said he had suffered sleepless nights over the alleged abuse, which he learned about when a member of the Conservative group approached him with notes of the comments.
He said: “I was told I had a nickname some time before, but I dismissed it at the time.
“In October I had a conversation with someone who brought this to my attention in detail.” He said that if the allegations are proved, he will demand a full, public apology.
AVDC leader John Cartwright said he was aware of the nickname .
He stated: “All of us have over the years have attracted derogatory remarks and nicknames, that’s par for the course in politics.
“You don’t tend to get uptight and upset.
“I’m aware of some talk about a nickname in times gone by, but most certainly not recently.”
And he added that abusive behaviour by Conservative members would not be tolerated.
In a statement, chief executive Andrew Grant said: “I have met with Councillor Lambert several times to discuss this matter and appreciate that he is upset about the alleged comments.
“From the information which Councillor Lambert has made known to me, I understand that the alleged comments were not made during the course of normal council business, neither did they involve any council employee.
“The council has not received any formal complaint from Councillor Lambert so as the situation currently stands, it is essentially a private matter between Councillor Lambert and whoever he believes made the comments.
“I have advised Councillor Lambert that if he wishes to make a formal complaint, he can do so by referring the matter to the Standards Committee (the body which deals with standards and ethical matters concerning councillors).
“It would be for the committee to decide if there is sufficient evidence and if it is appropriate for the complaint to be investigated.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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