Tierney v Lay war of words set to go before the conduct committee of Fenland District Council

Wisbech Mayor making at Wisbech town hall. New Mayor Garry Tibbs. Picture: Steve Williams.

Wisbech Mayor making at Wisbech town hall. New Mayor Garry Tibbs. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Allegations by 78-year-old UKIP councillor Alan Lay that he was threatened by the mayor of Wisbech Garry Tibbs will be considered by the conduct committee of Fenland Council following a complaint by deputy mayor Steve Tierney.

Wisbech Mayor making at Wisbech town hall. Deputy Mayor Cllr Steve Tierney. Picture: Steve Williams

Wisbech Mayor making at Wisbech town hall. Deputy Mayor Cllr Steve Tierney. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Cllr Tierney claims that during a Wisbech town council meeting discussing the minutes Cllr Lay claimed that Cllr 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,” says Cllr Tierney.

“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 Cllr Lay should withdraw that remark as perhaps he had mis-stated.”

Cllr Lay described it as a “pathetic complaint that will be getting out of proportion unless common sense prevails. It is time to stop this escapade now.

Cllr Alan Lay

Cllr Alan Lay - Credit: Archant

“Cllr Tierney continues to make a ‘mountain out of a mole hill’. His complaint comes with words like false and untrue regarding a petty disagreement at the town hall.”

“I have informed you also of the type of language he uses to insult people. He insulted my name, Lazy Lay, scumbags and media whore are also within his base use of our language. Has he ever apologised for this? Never!

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“I repeat, I feel that I was threatened by the words ‘be very careful about what you are going to say’ uttered by Cllr Tibbs. Does he deny they were said?

“Cllr Tierney states that my words were false and he is inferring and states they are untrue. Ask him if he means I was lying?”

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

Cllr Tierney said: “Claiming to have been threatened during a meeting by the chairman who is also mayor of Wisbech is a very strong claim. I was at the previous meeting and heard no such threat. I do not believe anybody else did either. Cllr Lay should apologise and withdraw the remark.”

The deputy mayor said Cllr Lay’s “strong and false language risks bringing the council and office of the mayor into disrepute. It is unacceptable that this sort of language be used in such a false way. If left unchallenged and allowed into the public domain it would give people reason to think it is true.”

Cllr Lay added: “His accusation is an insult to me. So my reply is, No, I will not make any apology, instead I ask that he withdraws all accusations, and that he abandons this so obvious political point scoring fiasco.”

Efforts by Carol Pilson, Fenland’s monitoring officer, to keep the dispute outside of the conduct committee failed after Cllr Tierney had called for Cllr Lay to “amend his words. It would have been simple and honourable to do so.

“I cannot allow this slur on the mayor to be allowed to stand.

“It may seem trivial to some but I think a claim of acting in a threatening way to an elderly man is a downright awful thing to say.”

The two independent members of the conduct committee agreed it should go to a full hearing.

Their meeting was chaired by Councillor Sam Hoy, herself a former mayor, but she did not vote on the proposal to take it before a conduct committee hearing.

The independents felt use it was “inappropriate” use of the word threatened “which was not substantiated.”

They also said the word threatened “implies there would be a consequence to these actions which covers a multitude of scenarios, one of which could be violence.”

In a Facebook posting at the weekend Cllr Tierney wrote: “Alan Lay is a nice enough guy but he has a tendency to go a bit far. “