Houghton Regis councillor calls the mayor a ‘cut-price Swampy’

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Arguments over the Kingsland site in Houghton Regis descended into a slanging match with a town councillor insulting the mayor, we can reveal.

In an email dated July 2, Cllr Martin Kennedy took a swipe at the town mayor, Cllr Joanna Hillyard and stated: “It’s about time you started acting like the chair of the town council and not a cut-price Swampy.”

The email was shared with other town councillors and was in reference to environmental campaign group, ‘Stop the Destruction of the Kingsland Wildlife Site’.

Cllr Kennedy told the Gazette that he had apologised to the mayor in a meeting on Monday.

In the email, he had complained about the behaviour of Roger Giugno, leader of the campaign group, and wanted “reassurance” ahead of a proposed visit by councillors to the site.

But Mr Giugno said: “I don’t accept the allegations [of verbal abuse] and I’m more than happy to go to court for the publicity it would give us.”

The Gazette previously reported that on Monday, June 27, the campaign group staged a protest outside Houghton Regis Town Council offices over a perceived “private meeting” between Central Bedfordshire Council and the town council over the Kingsland proposals.

Both CBC and the town council denied that this was the case.

Although police were called, no action was taken as it was deemed a peaceful demonstration.

The town council nevertheless abandoned its regular meeting soon afterwards.

Mr Giugno said that a town council employee had also come forward making allegations against the group following the protest.

He said that he had been visited by police officers yesterday morning.

Mr Giugno added: “It was his word against ours and now he’s gone to ground.

“I’ve had a meeting with the leader of the council and grievance officer last week after all these allegations were being made. All I want is an apology.”

A meeting between members of the campaign group and town council is scheduled to take place later today.

In a statement, Houghton Regis Town Council clerk Clare Evans said: “Cllr Kennedy has made a public apology to Cllr Hillyard.”

Regarding the allegations of abuse made by council staff, Ms Evans stated: “It is understood that various allegations are currently being investigated by the police and as such it is inappropriate to comment.

“Houghton Regis is a strategic growth area and as such over forthcoming years there will undoubtedly be various community consultations on the growth proposals. The Town Council is always pleased to work with and hear from local stakeholders, including voluntary and community groups, residents and other interested parties in relation to these consultations.”

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