THE leader of Southend Council has been accused of branding a former colleague a “psychopath”.

Nigel Holdcroft said he was outraged by the slur after a Labour rival misinterpreted a blog post by the Tory chief about cycle paths.

Mr Holdcroft wrote the post to debunk claims by former Conservative councillor Steve Aylen that a planned new cycle route would destroy trees in Belfairs Park.

But, writing on his own blog, Julian Ware-Lane, a councillor for Milton, claimed Mr Holdcroft had deliberately chosen a similar-sounding phrase to psychopath to attack Mr Aylen.

Mr Holdcroft said the interpretation was “simply unacceptable” and demanded an apology.

He added: “For Mr Ware-Lane to try to link ‘cycle path’ with ‘psychopath’ is bizarre and bears no relation to my comments – either actual or implied.

“His blog is offensive to both me and Mr Aylen.

“He should offer an immediate and unreserved apology and withdraw the blog entry.”

The council has been pursuing plans to create a cycle path from Priory Park in the east to Woodlands Park in the west of the borough since 2005.

Councillors are now being consulted on the proposed route through Belfairs Park.

In a letter to the Echo last week, campaign group Saxon King in Priory Park (SKIPP) claimed Mr Aylen had said the route would mean the felling of a substantial number of trees.

Mr Holdcroft said that was inaccurate and titled his blog post “A Tale of Two Cycle Paths” to illustrate the differences between the actual route and the one suggested by Mr Aylen.

Mr Aylen fell out with his Tory colleagues last year after he was deselected as the party candidate for Belfairs ward in May’s elections.

He stood as an Independent and defeated the Tories’ Helen Boyd to retain his seat.

Mr Ware-Lane wrote: “There is no love lost between Mr Aylen and some of his former colleagues.

“It is an old joke, pun perhaps, that conflates ‘cycle paths’ and ‘psychopaths’, and so to me it is clear what Mr Holdcroft means in his post title.

“Rude does not cover it, it is beyond rude.”

Speaking to the Echo, Mr Ware-Lane added: “I still think the post title was ambiguous at best.

“However, if Mr Holdcroft is saying he did not mean that, then I will have to take that at face value.

“But in my opinion it was a deliberately ambiguous choice of words.”