A SENIOR councillor is being probed over claims he “bullied and harassed” the owners of a new restaurant in a row over planning permission.

Tory Bill Sharp has been reported to Castle Point Council’s independent investigator by businessman Mehmet Ali Deniz, who is currently renovating a former car showroom in London Road, Hadleigh.

The dispute broke out after Mr Sharp claimed Mr Denis and his business partner Razaman Unlu were carrying out work using out-of-date planning permission, which was granted in March 2010. The pair have refuted the allegation - which prompted a “furious exchange of texts and calls” between them and Mr Sharp.

Mr Deniz and Mr Unlu allege that in July 2016 Mr Sharp, a councillor for 30 years, attempted to use his position on the council’s planning committee to “solicit a bribe in return for his assistance” - a claim which has already been thrown out by the independent investigator.

The businessmen also allege that Mr Sharp “threatened to revoke any permission or licences the property might have or need.”

The councillor for St James’ ward will face a hearing at the Castle Point Council officers, in Kiln Road, Thundersley, on Tuesday.

Alex Oram, director of Ch&I Associates, which has been appointed to review the complaint, refuted claims a bribe was sought by My Sharp. He ruled that the councillor did, however, “enter the property uninvited” to urge the owners to halt work on the Turkish restaurant - sparking the harassment and bullying complaints.

In a report to the council’s review committee, Mr Oram said: “I have not upheld the most serious aspects of this complaint. In my view the evidence does not support the allegation that councillor Sharp either sought a bribe from the complainant or threatened to use his position to ensure that Mr Deniz and Mr Unlu did not get the necessary permissions and licences.”

He added: “Mr Sharp urged council officers on a number of occasions to take action against Mr Deniz for not having the necessary planning permission, suggesting that he would call in any planning application for consideration by the development control committee when submitted.”

Mr Sharp told the Echo: “The allegations are totally misplaced and will be strongly refuted by the review committee. I look forward to talking freely after the hearing.”