Vandalism relates to Barton planning application, a long-serving councillor believes

Cllr Campbell Dawson.

A long-serving 81-year-old councillor who has had tyres slashed and property smashed outside his home believes the incidents relate to a planning application.

The offences against Richmondshire councillor Campbell Dawson have emerged as the authority’s Conservative group said its decision to remove him from the council’s planning committee, on which he has served for 31 years, was completely unrelated.

The Croft and Middleton Tyas councillor, who is a former chairman of the authority, said he was focusing on moving out of the property he has lived in since the 1954 following the attacks, which he believes could be related to a planning application he opposed.

Coun Dawson, who was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving last year before a police investigation concluded he had done nothing wrong, said his tyres had been slashed in Barton on the same night in what had been “a set up”.

He said he thought it was pointless reporting another incident in which signs were wrecked outside his home near Barton two weeks ago.

He said: “I don’t think I’m flavour of the month in Barton at the minute. I have the place up for sale and I want out.

“You just have to grin and bear it don’t you. It’s one of the things of being a councillor.”

However, Coun Dawson said he believed the Tory group’s decision to remove him from the planning committee “went back a few months” after some residents became irate about him voting against a plan to build homes in Barton, which has sharply divided the community.

He said the leader of the Conservative group Councillor Yvonne Peacock had simply told him he was being replaced on the planning committee and offered no explanation.

Coun Peacock said she had been unaware of the latest incident that Coun Dawson had suffered and described it as “appalling”, particularly in light of the safety concerns for politicians following the murder of MP Sir David Amess.

She said Coun Dawson had been offered an explanation about the decision to replace him on the planning committee and said it had only been to give another member, Councillor Richard Ormston, a chance to serve on it.

The council’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale, described the incidents as “absolutely shocking”.

She said: “Nobody should be having to put up with this kind of intimidation. Anybody who is getting threatened should be reporting it to the council’s officers.

“We have to deal with some really difficult applications that are not popular in the community and have had quite a few dodgy meetings where people have got riled up. Planning is difficult as you are governed by planning law. You can’t just say no or yes to something if it’s not right as it has consequences.

“I have been called all sorts on social media. You become a target for people to let off steam. There’s a perception that if you put yourself forward politically you should be able to put up with it, but you need to be a bit thick-skinned to do this job.

“We are real people who have families, homes, children, grandchildren and people should think before they speak out against people who are here to do a job.”