Burnley Conservative councillor quits following 'feud' with Lib Dem colleague

The Burnley Council Conservative group has lost its second member in a week.

Burnley Tory Phil Chamberlain has quit the authority following a ‘feud’ with his Liberal Democrat ward colleague Coun. Jeff Sumner.

Last week, Hapton with Park ward’s Coun. Peter Gill left the Burnley Council Conservative group over the behaviour of the party’s national leadership.

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Rosehill with Burnley Wood ward’s Mr Chamberlain was recently disciplined by the local authority’s Audit and Standards Committee along with Coun. Sumner after a hearing last month.

Burnley Conservative Phil Chamberlain has quit the council following a ‘feud’ with Liberal Democrat colleague Coun. Jeff Sumner.

It recommended that both councillors should make a written apology to a member of the public who witnessed a dispute between them, make a written apology to all fellow councillors and agree to mediation.

They were found to have “failed to treat others with respect and had conducted themselves in a way that could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office and the authority into disrepute”.

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The decision and penalty is reported to Wednesday’s Full Burnley Council meeting.

The committee report says: “A hostile discussion had taken place between two elected members in the presence of a resident and a vulnerable adult.

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“The incident had begun in a private residence and spilled over in a public place.

“Although Coun. Sumner had suggested that Coun. Chamberlain was the instigator, Coun. Sumner could have chosen not to get involved in the discourse.

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“Neither did he de-escalate the situation.

“It was left to a member of the public, i.e. the resident, to intervene to de-escalate the situation.”

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Mr Chamberlain said: “I have resigned from the Conservative group not the party.

“I have resigned for personal reasons.

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“I could not longer remain a member of the council after the committee accepted evidence containing blatant untruths.

“My resignation was not directly connected with Coun. Sumner.”

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A Burnley Conservative Party spokesman: “While Phil Chamberlain has been an active member of our party for a number of years the ongoing feud between him and another Lib Dem Councillor has been nothing but a distraction from the work residents expect of us.

“The Conservative team is fully focused on delivering better services for local people and this petty dispute has added nothing to that.

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“We expect the highest standards of our councillors and members. With both councillors found to have breached the Council’s Code of Conduct Mr Chamberlain resigned and is no longer a Conservative representative.”

Coun. Sumner, who remains a member of Burnley Council, declined to comment.

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Burnley Council and Labour councillor Mark Townsend, who chaired the meeting, both declined to comment.

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