Toad in a hole at 'spelling mistake'

A Lancashire councillor is in hot water over comments he made in a community newsletter.

Coun Tom Sharratt, of the Idle Toad party, is being hauled before the standards committee of South Ribble Council on August 28.

The former journalist is accused of calling Coun Jim Marsh a "defacator" in an edition of the Idle Toad newsletter.

If found guilty, Coun Sharratt could be ordered to apologise, suspended for up to six months or censured.

But he insists it should have said "defector".

Coun Marsh said: "I don't believe that somebody who spent a long time in newspapers as a reporter could make a mistake considering he writes the story and then edits it."

Coun Marsh, of Coupe Green and Gregson Lane ward, quit the Toads in February 2007 after a row with his former leader, telling him to "stick the Idle Toad where the sun don't shine" – a quote recorded in council documentation.

He joined the Conservative group a week later, leading to an article in the Idle Toad newsletter accusing him of "claiming he was to be an independent then joining the Tories".

Coun Marsh claims he was approached by the Conservatives days later to join and stood as a Tory candidate in 2007, retaining his seat.

Coun Sharratt has represented Coupe Green and Gregson Lane since 1995. He has also represented South Ribble Rural East at County Hall for 28 years.

The ex-Guardian reporter began writing the Idle Toad – which is distributed to homes in Walton-le-Dale and Bamber Bridge – in 1997.

Coun Sharratt was deselected by Labour in 1997 and stood as an Idle Toad since.

Coun Sharratt was not available for comment.

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