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Three Crawley councillors on verge of defection following rows and bullying claims
Three councillors are thought to be considering defecting to rival parties after a succession of rows, bullying and sexual harassment claims.
The threats come after it was revealed a council leader was being investigated by police over claims he sexually harassed a junior colleague.
Crawley Borough Council leader Bob Lanzer would not comment on the police investigation but it is understood he has made a counter-claim to police that his accuser, Karl Williamson, has harassed him.
A police spokesman said: “We have received allegations from two Crawley men that each other has been harassing the other.
“The allegations are being investigated and are being treated as possible offences under the Protection from Harassment Act.”
It is believed two disillusioned Conservative councillors have threatened to defect to UKIP amid bitter rowing while a third is considering a move to Labour.
This would leave no party with overall control of the council.
'Tit for tat'
A Conservative insider, who did not wish to be named, said: “There's talk of three councillors defecting.
“It's all come from the whole thing about Bob Lanzer and Karl and claims of bulling. It's all tit for tat.
“It's becoming ridiculous. We need everyone to get together and talk like adults.
“We've got to remember that we've got a job to do as councillors.
“This is a major boost to Labour. We need to take a reality check otherwise this could all bring us to a premature end by September.”
Crawley UKIP chairman John Mac Canna said: “It looks like we're going to get at least two.
“I will hold my breath until they've signed up. It's something I wish for, there's a lot to look forward to.
“We could be holding the balance of power in Crawley - it's all within the bounds of possibilities.”
Two influential Conservatives were rumoured to have joined the party after they 'liked' Crawley UKIP page on Facebook.
One of these, Crawley Conservative Association chairman Lee Gilroy, denied becoming a member.
He and deputy association chairman Coun Williamson were hit with a vote of no confidence over claims of bullying at an association meeting last week. Some 95% voted against them.
Mr Gilroy said: “I feel like I've been stitched up, there's been so much skulduggery. It's all because I followed procedures and reported the sexual harassment claims to CCHQ.”
Neither intends to stand down following the landslide defeat and Coun Williamson has made a complaint to the council about bullying from association members.
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