A WEST Craven councillor's warning to a rival councillor that "I'll have you outside" was intended as a threat of physical violence, members of a standards watchdog group have decided.

Barnoldswick councillor David Whipp never denied using the words, but said it was a warning he would take legal action outside the council chamber if the other councillor, Azhar Ali, continued to tell lies about him.

Coun Whipp did not attend the meeting of Pendle Council's Standards Committee on Tuesday, his Liberal Democrat colleagues on the council also boycotting it.

Three Labour councillors and one Conservative, Earby councillor Rosemary Carroll, attended Tuesday's meeting, together with council officers, to consider two complaints made by Labour's Coun Ali about Liberal Democrat Coun Whipp. The first was about the words "I'll have you outside", said by Coun Whipp to Coun Ali during the full budget meeting of Pendle Council on March 1.

In a letter to chief executive Stephen Barnes, Coun Ali, who represents Nelson's Marsden Ward, complained about the "outrageous and threatening conduct" and called for the matter to be investigated by the Standards Committee before the end of April.

In a letter to the committee, Coun Whipp said that insistence on timing pointed to Coun Ali's true motives - attempting to smear him in the run up to the Pendle Council election.

His letter added: "Only since the meeting has it come to my attention that 'I'll have you outside' is a phrase used in public bars to invite people to a fight.

"My pacifist ideals and ethics of non-violence are well-known. I did not use the phrase in that way."

But the Standards Committee took the view that his words were intended as a threat of physical violence. They resolved to ask Coun Whipp to apologise for his behaviour and give an assurance as to his future conduct.

Furthermore, his political group will be asked to not appoint him to any committees for the next six months and the police will be invited to investigate the matter.

Coun Ali's second complaint related to the issue of housing land allocation in Barnoldswick.

Throughout the debate Coun Whipp has declared an interest and taken no part in council discussions on the issue because he has an interest in land at George Street, originally identified as a potential housing site. But Coun Ali alleged he had sought to influence decisions by sending out letters to residents in his ward about the issue. He said that contravened the council's guidelines on declaration of interest.

Coun Whipp replied, again by letter, saying the letters were purely to inform residents of the latest developments in a crucial issue.

The Standards Committee felt Coun Whipp's letters could be seen as seeking to influence the decision process, but decided no sanction should be taken against him.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Whipp said: "I'm far more concerned with the judgement the people of Barnoldswick will make based on my 20 years' service to the community than with the politically motivated actions of other councillors with an axe to grind."

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