A senior councillor’s membership of the Liberal Democrats has been temporarily suspended as the party looks into a physical confrontation he had at a full council meeting.
Ollie Heptinstall www.devonlive.com
During a question on planning, Teignbridge councillor Gary Taylor (Dawlish South West) appeared to try to pull opposition member Liam Mullone (Newton Says No, College) away at a meeting in September. The pair were broken up.
Cllr Mullone told BBC Radio Devon that Cllr Taylor “grabbed me by the lapels and I heard my jacket tear. He was trying to pull me out of the room.”
Addressing the first council meeting since the incident, Cllr Taylor, who holds the planning portfolio, said: “You have my word that I will not act in this manner again in the future.
“Whilst my actions were intended to prevent an escalation of an ongoing situation, I recognise that in the field of politics, there is no place for physical confrontation, however well-intentioned or otherwise.”
But he didn’t apologise to Cllr Mullone directly.
The Liberal Democrats have now confirmed in a statement that “Mr Taylor’s membership of the party has been temporarily suspended while a complaint is investigated.”
It added: “The Liberal Democrats operate a robust and independent complaints process.”
However, Councillor Alan Connett (Kenton & Starcross), leader of the council and the Lib Dem group, confirmed that Cllr Taylor remains on the executive and part of the local political group while it awaits a decision from the national party.
Following Cllr Taylor’s apology this week, a council spokesperson said: “As a local authority we expect all councillors and officers to demonstrate the highest standards of behaviour.
“Councillor Taylor apologised at [Tuesday’s] full council for his actions at the previous meeting. Therefore, no further action is considered appropriate or necessary.”