Accusation labelled ‘ frivolous, pathetic and puerile’ as Wisbech deputy mayor demands apology over allegation by UKIP councillor, 79, he was ‘threatened’ by mayor

Left: Mayor Garry Tibbs with deputy mayor Steve Tierney. Picture: Steve Williams.

Left: Mayor Garry Tibbs with deputy mayor Steve Tierney. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A 79-year-old Wisbech town councillor who is alleged to have been ‘threatened’ by the 34-year-old mayor could be hauled before the conduct committee of Fenland District Council.

Cllr Alan Lay.

Cllr Alan Lay. - Credit: Archant

UKIP town councillor Alan Lay is the subject of a complaint by Tory councillor – and deputy mayor- Steve Tierney.

In a letter to Fenland Council, Cllr Tierney says that “Cllr Lay was making a comment on the minutes of the previous meeting and during his comments he stated that the chairman / mayor Garry Tibbs had ‘threatened’ him at the previous meeting.

“At this point the whole room gasped, mostly because we were almost all at the previous meeting and there was no ‘threat’ made or anything like it.”

Responding to the complaint, Cllr Lay said: “My first thoughts are frivolous, pathetic and puerile.”

Cllr Tierney said: “Given that claiming to be ‘threatened’ was quite a strong statement that risked damaging the mayor’s reputation and the reputation of the council, I then commented that I felt Cllr Lay should withdraw that remark as perhaps he had mis-stated.

“Given the opportunity to rephrase or withdraw, Cllr Lay did neither and restated his claim that the mayor had ‘threatened’ him.”

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Cllr Tierney added: “Claiming to have been threatened during a meeting by the chairman of that meeting who is also the mayor of Wisbech is a very strong claim indeed.

“I was at the previous meeting to which he referred and heard no such threat. I do not believe anybody else did either. Cllr. Lay should apologise and withdraw the remark.”

Cllr Tierney said he was bringing this complaint “because I feel that Cllr Lay’s strong and false language risks bringing the council and the office of the mayor into disrepute.

“It is unacceptable that this sort of language be used in such a false way and if left unchallenged and allowed into the public domain it would give people reason to think it true. It mostly certainly is not true.”

FDC corporate director Carol Pilson has now written to Cllr Lay explaining that “the next stage in the process is for me to ask you to respond to the complaint within the next seven days.

“We try, wherever possible, to resolve complaints informally in the first instance. Cllr Tierney has indicated that to resolve this matter informally he would require an apology from you and a withdrawal of the remarks made.”

Cllr Lay, whose wife Brenda was recently sacked from the town council after failing to attend a meeting for six months, told Ms Pilson he “noted the complaint”.

He said he was wife’s full time carer (she has been seriously ill and it was a row over disabled access to the council chamber that made it difficult for her to attend) but promised to respond after Christmas “give or take a few days”.

He said: “I will follow up in finer detail after the holidays.”