A POLITICAL spat over a proposed playground in Highworth led to town councillor Angela Livall standing in the dock charged with assaulting former mayor Maureen Penny.

The incident occurred on November 5 at the Globe Inn, where it was alleged Coun Livall was under the influence of alcohol and had assaulted Coun Penny.

Coun Livall pleaded guilty to the charges on Wednesday and was given an absolute discharge by Swindon magistrates.

But she has said it is the latest in a series of attempts to silence her within local politics after she appeared at two code of conduct hearings last year, neither of which brought any action against her.

“I was summoned to the Globe Inn on 5 November last year to a meeting of the Conservative group,” said Coun Livall.

“Subsequently I ended up at magistrates’ court on criminal charges.

“ It should never have got that far. This happened because I would not fall into line, and they have been trying to take away my public voice.”

Coun Livall has been at loggerheads with fellow councillors over the siting of a new multi use games arena at Northview Community Centre and artificial all weather football pitch at Highworth Rec.

“The residents had put in letters of complaint, as well as the trustees of the Northview Community centre and the borough police consultant,” said Coun Livall.

“It is my opinion on the important issues concerning Highworth that put me in this position, but my public voice has not been taken away.

“I have every respect and confidence in the current trustees of the Northview Community Centre and Highworth Rec Centre, but I remain concerned about the future of the Highworth Rec Centre, and still believe the introduction of an artificial all-weather pitch would be beneficial to the centre.

“The main issue is the siting of the multi use games arena, which I no longer believe will be at Northview.

“I wanted to speak privately with my fellow councillors. We were facing a lot of angry residents, and there is an election coming up.

“I have no stain on my record, I was just trying to get back in with my party.”

Coun Penny said she stepped in to help after Coun Livall flew at the party secretary ahead of the group meeting.

“I went in to the Globe Inn pub with the secretary of the Conservative party and another councillor,” she said.

“As we walked in to the back Angela flew across the room shouting and wagging her finger at the secretary, who is a 76-year-old, very small, woman.

“The other councillor left because she did not need that sort of upset. I told Angela to calm down, and she turned on me and poked me in the shoulder.”

“From what I gathered she did not feel the secretary of the Conservatives should be at a meeting of the Blunsdon and Highworth conservatives.

“It was very vicious, and as soon as she heard our voices she pushed another councillor out of the way to get to our group. She was aiming for another person but I got involved to protect her.”

Current Highworth mayor Philip Beaumont, who is a Labour councillor, said: “It is regrettable it should come to this between two councillors.

“As far as I am concerned there are not any issues within the council. The councillors I know have always treated Angela with respect, but outside the council chambers I do not know. “This is an issue which has occurred within the Conservative party.

“The council has been trying to deal with some quite complicated issues, and the atmosphere does sometimes spill over, but we have been working well together as a council. Meetings are usually amicable and we work well together to achieve things.”