BASILDON mayor Mo Larkin told how she is the victim of a “harassment campaign”
after the council launched an investigation into her conduct.
Mrs Larkin spoke after Basildon Council confirmed it is probing events at the last full council meeting, after a complaint was made about her chairmanship.
Alan Bennett, chief whip of Basildon Labour group until the May elections when he lost his seat, asked for the inquiry into Mrs Larkin’s chairing of the meeting on July 17.
The Echo reported on how the meeting was summed up as “the worst meeting ever attended” by one councillor after it had to be halted for 40 minutes following ugly verbal clashes between Mrs Larkin, Labour councillor Gavin Callaghan, and other members of his group who staged a walkout. Mrs Larkin told the Echo: “It is complete and utter rubbish, everything he (Alan Bennett) has said is completely untrue. It is all part of a harassment case against me.”
Mrs Larkin has previously made complaints to police about harassment, including after a series of cartoon videos mocking her were posted online and emailed to all councillors last year.
At the June full council meeting she had to publicly declare she was not defecting to UKIP, due to her association with Kim Gandy, a former member of the anti-Europe party.
Tempers flared at the July 17 meeting after Mrs Gandy asked during public question time whether Mr Callaghan was fit to be a member of the authority’s standards committee due to alleged abusive postings on Twitter.
Mrs Larkin later blasted Mr Callaghan amid claims he gesticulated at her from his seat during the talks.
Mr Bennett wrote: “The mayor acted in a disgraceful manner which certainly brought the council into disrepute.
“On at least three separate occasions she lost control both of the meeting and her own conduct with disgraceful outburst of temper aimed at various Labour councillors.
“Eventually, after the intervention of (Bala Mahendran) chief executive the mayor asked Mrs Gandy to be quiet, but she was allowed to continue her rampage without further sanction from the chair. During subsequent exchanges with Labour councillors Mrs Larkin insulted two councillors in particular, resulting in the meeting being suspended for some 45 minutes.”
He said the delay meant subsequent motions were voted on “without debate”, and a Labour amendment to one motion could not be discussed.
A council spokesman said: “The complaint has been referred to the council’s monitoring officer and will be dealt with in accordance with approved process.”