Calls to end Blackpool mayoral feud
A bitter row over the resignation of a former Blackpool mayor has been reignited amid claims the dignity of the role is being put in jeopardy.
Former first citizen Coun Ian Coleman stood down from his position in March after he was accused of making "inappropriate" comments to young people at an event he attended in his capacity as mayor.
But he told a full meeting of Blackpool Council his consultant had now written to him to say he had suffered a TIA (transient ischemic attack), also known as a mini-stroke, at the time of the transgression.
He said this had affected his behaviour and he also accused council leader Coun Simon Blackburn of "shouting" at him during a disciplinary hearing about the matter.
But Coun Blackburn said complaints had been made over a period of time - and called for an end to the matter "in order to protect the dignity of the mayoralty".
Three official complaints over comments made by Coun Coleman at the same event - two of them from organisations - were made to Blackpool Council, which investigated the claims.
He stood down as Mayor just weeks before his term of office was due to end and apologised.
But now he says his behaviour could have been down to suffering a mini-stroke.
Coun Coleman told Wednesday's council meeting: "What happened was that I couldn't get my words out correctly.
"Everybody should start looking out for the warning signs happening and not give people the grief that I had to take.
"A TIA is a sign there is a problem in the blood supply to part of your brain and of increased risk of a stroke.
"When you have been through what I have been through, and my family has been through in the last few months, I'm sure everyone will understand."
Coun Coleman was allowed to speak for longer than usual by his son and current Mayor Coun Gary Coleman in order to outline the symptoms of a mini-stroke.
He was supported by Tory group leader Coun Tony Williams who told the meeting: "I was surprised and shocked to see a consultant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has recently confirmed that on the day of the incident that led to Coun Coleman's dismissal, he had suffered a minor stroke."
Coun Williams said this should have been taken into consideration when Coun Coleman was interviewed by council chiefs.
But Coun Blackburn said the correct process had been carried out which led to the resignation of Coun Coleman from his mayoral position.
He said: "There was not one incident on one day. There were a number of complaints over a period of many months.
"There was no dismissal - Coun Coleman resigned."
He denied shouting during the meeting and said: "The leader of the council plays no role in disciplinary matters. I was present as leader of his then political group."
He said Coun Coleman's health had been discussed at the disciplinary meeting.
Coun Blackburn added: "I suggest very strongly indeed that in order to protect what remains of the dignity and apolitical nature of the mayoralty, this unseemly attempt to rewrite history stops and stops now."
At the time of Coun Coleman's resignation, Mark Towers, the council’s monitoring officer, said complaints had been made "in relation to unsuitable words being said towards and in the presence of young people".
He said the complaints were reviewed in line with the council's code of conduct procedure and Coun Coleman had accepted that he had breached the code of conduct for members of the council.
He agreed to attend training in relation to equality and diversity.