A council leader has resigned following a turbulent period of harassment allegations, bullying claims and defections to UKIP.

Crawley Borough Council leader Bob Lanzer announced he would step down after being warned by police over sexual harassment claims made by a fellow councillor.

His accuser, former cabinet colleague Karl Wiliamson, was also spoken to by officers after Coun Lanzer made a counter-claim of harassment.

Police did not charge or caution either.

But officers did issue the men with a notice warning them if their described behaviour continued they could be liable to arrest and prosecution.

Opposition members claimed the resignation by the Conservative council leader had left the local authority in “chaos” at a crucial time.


Coun Lanzer, who has been leader since 2006, said: “Recent events may have distracted from the good work of the council, which is contrary to my purpose.

“These events of the past few months have caused me some stress and moved the focus from providing quality services for Crawley residents to disputes between individuals.

“Now that the police and party investigations against me have ended without any charges, cautions or suspensions respectively, this is the right time to stand down and allow the council to move forward under a new leader.”

The harassment claims sparked a period of fierce division within the local Conservative party, which included bullying claims and no confidence votes against the local association leadership.

Coun Williamson and association chairman Lee Gilroy have since defected to UKIP.

Labour group leader Peter Lamb said: “This does raise question marks about where we go from here.

“Who is running the council? There’s no clear line of control, it’s chaotic. I’m genuinely concerned.”

Councillor Claire Denman will take over as acting council leader before a successor is elected.

In a statement, Coun Denman said: “The cabinet and the Conservative group at the council wish to place on record our sincere thanks and gratitude for the incredible dedication to duty, and the outstanding leadership of the council that Bob Lanzer has provided since 2006.”

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