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Councillor who swore at tree feller receives warning

By Emma Crichton

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Roddy Balfour
Roddy Balfour

Roddy Balfour, who represents Culloden and Ardersier, may have shed some light on why Inverness was named the UK’s foul-mouthed capital.

Councillor Balfour found himself in front of a panel following a row with his neighbour, George Byers, about the felling of protected trees in the Croy area.

He was said to have asked Mr Byers: “What are you doing now you stupid old b****rd?” It comes just weeks after a study found Inverness to be making it the UK’s swearing capital.

At the hearing in the Town House on Tuesday the commissioners found that Councillor Balfour had breached the councillors’ code of conduct by making the comment in March last year.

The incident took place after a concerned resident phoned councillor Balfour to tell him Mr Byers was cutting down the trees – which were in Mr Byers’ garden – despite a tree protection order.

Councillor Balfour went to investigate and take photos. It was then he swore at Mr Byers.

At the hearing Councillor Balfour admitted he had done so and said he had been under a lot of pressure at the time, before claiming that Highland council chief executive Steve Barron agreed with him and would have said the same thing. “I would not have been doing my job of representing the best interests of the public if I had not gone to investigate,” said the Independent councillor. “This is a man who would stop at nothing to get his own way. He was determined to get those trees down. The comment was made under extreme provocation. He committed what I see as a heinous environmental offence.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but given the situation I had to say something.”

Mr Barron said he had agreed with the concerns about the protection order, but not the insult.

Councillor Balfour was censured, essentially given a warning, which will go on his council record.

Mr Byers felt it was not a strong enough punishment. “He was guilty but I feel like this was a fairly soft option,” he said.

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