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'We’re a bit more boring', says Attleborough Mayor after Council troubles

The new mayor of a town council left in turmoil after bitter rows and legal action has said they have gone from being a “hot topic of debate” to “barely getting a mention on social media”.

Attleborough Town Council was beset by infighting after a series of extraordinary meetings, claims of bullying and police attendance.

But new mayor Philip Leslie has revealed that a sense of normality is slowly returning to the troubled authority after months of being in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Attleborough Town Hall has seen a number of incidents of infighting over recent months.
Attleborough Town Hall has seen a number of incidents of infighting over recent months.

Speaking at a meeting of the scrutiny committee at Breckland Council on Thursday, Cllr Leslie said there were “significant issues with the operation of the town council which caused hostilities within the community”.

He said a division had resulted in legal action against the council, which was being “buried” by a rash of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by “people unhappy with representation and transparency”.

But he added: “When we were going through the dramatic period of time we were having, we had several hundred people view the live stream [of the council’s meetings] and several hundred view it afterwards just for good fun.

“On Monday, we had a meeting and we peaked at 34. We’ve obviously become a little bit more boring, but a lot more efficient.

“We barely get a mention on social media any more, when we were a hot topic of debate almost every day. I consider that a success.

“Our profile might be going down but our reputation is, hopefully, getting better.”

Cllr Leslie said the council was “far more united” with almost all councillors taking part in mediation between the two sides.

He said his main priority was areas of real concern, which included the council personnel committee, discretionary expenditure, press releases, solicitors’ fees, general operation, and live streamed meetings.

The new leadership is carrying out a root-and-branch review, he said, adding that the council would later have a full policy review of standing orders, and aim to create a community-led town council.

An investigation committee has also been drawn up, but Cllr Leslie said legal action was drawing to a close and there had been no new FOI requests since he took over as mayor.

He added that while some staff viewed the scrutiny committee’s involvement as “obstructive”, he saw it as a necessary part of the process of resolving issues.

The area’s district councillors had previously called-in the issue for discussion at Breckland Council.

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