AN investigation has found that a member of Hartlebury Parish Council breached the council's code of conduct.

A total of five parish councillors walked out of a meeting last October and resigned amidst a code of conduct complaint made against councillor Sheridan Tranter.

It is believed previous councillors took exception to “inflammatory language and accusations” allegedly made by Councillor Tranter.

Now, a three-month investigation into the complaint found that two breaches of the Hartlebury Parish Council Code of Conduct had occurred.

During the investigation, solicitor John Teasdale spoke to a total of nine people which included the complainant and Councillor Tranter.

Hartlebury Parish Council was unable to function prior to a public meeting held last night (Tuesday, January 14) where new members were elected.

An “emergency” council, made up of interim councillors including Worcestershire County Council chairman Peter Tomlinson, addressed the public regarding the code of conduct complaint.

A note shared by Councillor Tomlinson said: “Following a full investigation which took into account the comments of those interviewed alongside all documentation provided, Mr Teasdale found out on the balance of probabilities that two breaches of the Hartlebury Parish Council Code of Conduct had occurred.”

Recommendations were also made to address the breaches which “require Councillor Tranter to apologise both in writing and verbally to the complainant and others and to undertake training in respect of his responsibilities and duties as a Parish Council.”

The findings of the investigation have been documented in a 32-page report.

Councillor Tomlinson said: “It would be invidious to go into detail of this report as it could prejudice the next stage of this.”

The next stage involves a hearing where Councillor Tranter will be able to address the council and public.

Councillor Tranter did not attend last night’s meeting, saying he was “not well enough” and sent his apologies. If he was present at the meeting, he would have been given the opportunity to accept or reject the report.

However, a signed letter received by the council from Councillor Tranter was found to “comprehensively reject” the report and members agreed that this was his response.

Monitoring officer Meesha Patel said at the meeting: "It is likely Mr Tranter would not be accepting the report."

Councillor Tranter told The Shuttle in October that the complaint was “very bizarre" and that he did not break the code of conduct.

Worcestershire County Councillor Tony Miller said at the meeting: “As parish councillor, there is a code of conduct that you should follow. When you’re acting as a member you follow that code.

“When the Parish council makes a decision - if one parish councillor has a dispute and the rest of the council decide that is the end of it – that is the end of business.

“Dignity and respect should be given to the clerk and all members. The one thing we don’t want to see if a community that is disrupted and falling apart.

“Any person who puts themselves in a position that causes disruption should realise the value of the community is greater than the feelings of one councillor.”

New parish councillors were later appointed, and the positions of chairperson and vice chairperson decided.

The Shuttle has attempted to contact Councillor Tranter for comment.