Revealed, the curious tale of the Sunday morning visit by council leader - and mayoralty candidate- to home of retired farmer and town councillor

Councillor James Palmer- Sunday morning house visit to Cllr Woollard

Councillor James Palmer- Sunday morning house visit to Cllr Woollard - Credit: Archant

Council leader James Palmer denied he accused retired farmer and town councillor Geoffrey Woollard of “undermining” his mayoralty campaign.

Cllr Geoffrey Woollard - refused to put on dressing gown and speak to council leader James Palmer wh

Cllr Geoffrey Woollard - refused to put on dressing gown and speak to council leader James Palmer who dropped by - Credit: Archant

He insisted his visit today was to try and stop him bad mouthing his councillor father.

Cllr Palmer said his father Christopher was at Wembley yesterday for the FA Cup semi final when someone approached him and abused him – relying on comments made on social media and in print by Cllr Woollard.

“I’m fair game – I’m standing for election and getting masses of abuse on line and elsewhere and that’s entirely fair,” said Cllr Palmer. “But like any son I have a duty of care to my father – the abuse hurt me, I’m a human being as well as a politician”. He said his father had been a town councillor for 40 years, a church official for 30 years and was always scrupulous in his commitment to Soham.

Cllr Woollard said he was visited by Cllr Palmer at around 10am “and he knocked (on my front door – I could see who it was through the spy hole).

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“I said: ‘What do you want, I’m in my underclothes?’

“He said: ‘Can’t you put a dressing gown on? I want to talk to you about you undermining my campaign.’

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“I said: ‘We haven’t anything to discuss.’

“He said: ‘I just want a chat with you.’

“I said: ‘I don’t want to chat with you, having put up with 10 minutes of abuse from you on another occasion.’”

Cllr Woollard said Cllr Palmer denied having abused him and then left.

Cllr Palmer said he could see nothing newsworthy in what happened as it was a case of “man walks up to door, wants to chat, man doesn’t, and man walks away”.

The prospective mayor said his father and Cllr Woollard had clashed previously over the number of homes that have come to Soham and the number of houses planned.

He said whilst his father supported housing growth “Geoffrey chose to retire here some years, bought a very expensive house and prefers it not to grow”. He categorically denied using the word ‘undermined’ in his brief conversation.

Cllr Woollard said the background could be related to a phone call he made in March of last year to Cllr Palmer in which he said he was considering a complaint over his father’s conduct.

“I told James Palmer I was planning to report his father to the monitoring officer on account of his bullying and hectoring style and his failure to declare interests and leave the room when subjects relevant to his and his family’s interests are likely to be discussed.

“James gave me gave me a 10-minute verbal broadside, saying that [his father] had done so much for the town, the church, etc. I decided not to act as I had planned”.

Cllr Palmer said he could remember no such call.

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