Nottinghamshire County Council members 'hit with agenda'

Kelham Hall Image copyright Simon Ashmore
Image caption The disagreement followed a lengthy council meeting at Kelham Hall

Three Labour councillors claim they were attacked by a rival who hit them round the head with a rolled up agenda.

The incident came at the end of a Nottinghamshire County Council meeting, which was discussing free school meals.

It was revealed in a tweet from John Clarke, one of the three who was hit. The council has since received a formal complaint.

Councillor Stan Heptinstall said he tapped the city councillors on the shoulder with the papers.

Mr Heptinstall said he did not see it as an attack but agreed he should not have acted in that way and has "apologised reservedly".

The three councillors said the behaviour was unacceptable and he should apologise to the whole council.

The altercation happened at Kelham Hall, near Newark, following a heated exchange surrounding a motion submitted by the Liberal Democrat group to thank the government for free school meals but which the Labour group wanted to change.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption John Clarke, leader of Gedling Borough Council and a county councillor, tweeted about the fracas

It ended with Mr Heptinstall apparently hitting Mr Clarke with the papers, along with councillors Michael Payne and Darrell Pulk, on his way out.

Mr Payne said: "Very unfortunately, tempers were frayed and one of the Liberal Democrats lost his temper and upon leaving the chamber hit myself, Councillor Clarke and another Labour councillor round the back of the head with his rolled up, thick agenda.

"He was shaking his fist, and shouting, ranting and raving."

Image caption Councillor Stan Heptinstall is accused of hitting other councillors with his agenda documents

Mr Pulk said he had received an apology, which he accepted, but felt the full council deserved one as well.

"He is a nice bloke, I've known him for years. It was totally out of character," he said.

"But unacceptable behaviour can't go unchallenged. It has been reported and hopefully that will be the end of the matter."

Liberal Democrat leader Jason Zadrozny said he did not believe Mr Heptinstall would have hit the councillors.

"The very most that could have happened... Stan could have brushed past them as he tried to get out of the chamber," he said.

"There was definitely no assault as far as I could see."

'Tensions arise'

He added the behaviour of the Labour councillors "would make people wince" and he would not blame anyone for getting angry.

Mr Heptinstall, who is mayor of Broxtowe and a retired university professor, said: "As far as I am aware it is all over. I have apologised for what happened and the apology has been accepted.

"I have had a message from the civic officer not to talk about what happened. I just want to get on with my life."

Both sides said they had written to Mick Burrows, the chief executive of the council. Police were not called to the meeting.

In a statement, Mr Burrows said: "Councillors have significant responsibilities as they work hard to represent the interests of local people. Inevitably, at times, tensions arise over debates and decisions when there are political differences.

"I am aware of an incident that took place at the full council meeting yesterday in respect of which a councillor has already personally apologised to the councillors affected.

"However, I have since received a formal complaint and have now referred this to the Monitoring Officer to investigate."

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