MAYOR Linda Arkley was thrown out of her own council’s meeting after a row broke out.
The North Tyneside elected mayor exchanged heated words with a Labour councillor during budget discussions.
She ended up leaving the meeting – along with the rest of the council’s Tory group – as a motion was passed to exclude her.
The extraordinary turn of events happened during Wednesday night’s budget meeting at North Tyneside Council’s headquarters.
Tensions are running high over the budget as the Conservative mayor tries to get her proposals past the majority Labour council.
Jim Allan, leader of the council’s Labour group, claims Mrs Arkley “berated” Coun Sandra Graham, a member of his party.
“The mayor continued despite the chair of the council asking her to sit down, which she refused so the chair of council suspended the council meeting to achieve some order,” Coun Allan said.
“When the council re-convened the Labour group requested that the mayor make an apology to the whole council, which she refused to do.
“The Labour group then moved a procedural motion to exclude the mayor from the meeting, then the whole of the Tory group left the meeting.”
Whitley Bay councillor Sandra Graham, who was only elected last May, had been asking a question about workers’ rights and the safeguarding of external funding.
It came after media reports at the start of last month about Eastern European workers found to be living in buildings on the old Swan Hunter shipyard site.
She said she felt “humiliated” by what happened.
“I asked a legitimate question regarding the workers who were living at Swan Hunter and whether this would pose any business risk to European Regional Development Fund money,” she said.
“The mayor stood up and began shouting at me. She called for me to resign.
“As a relatively new councillor I was shocked by her behaviour. I was shaking and I felt humiliated. It was totally outrageous.”
Council chair Frank Lott said he had never had to step in and suspend a meeting in this way before.
“I asked the mayor to sit down,” he said. “When she refused I only had one option which was to suspend the meeting.”
He believes Mrs Arkley may have “misunderstood or misconstrued” the question which was asked by Coun Graham.
“When we returned Labour requested that the mayor make an apology to council which I felt was a legitimate request. The mayor declined and that is when the motion was put forward that she be asked to leave the chamber.”
Mrs Arkley was not available for comment last night. A statement issued by the North Tyneside Conservatives said: “Linda Arkley was appalled on Wednesday in a public council meeting at a question which appeared to her to have undertones of discrimination against Eastern European workers employed by a local independent company, supporting a significant number of local jobs.
“Mrs Arkley reacted to the question because of the way it was put. Councillors, as community leaders, have to be careful in the language they use, to avoid generating tensions in the community towards any particular group.
“The allegations against Mayor Arkley of bullying and harassment are completely untrue and unfounded.
“It is disappointing that Mayor Arkley was unable to participate in an important budget meeting about providing services and jobs and encouraging investment. Mrs Arkley’s hard work has contributed to the success of businesses expanding in North Tyneside.”