Chorley Council has been branded a ‘Mickey Mouse’ organisation – by one of its own veteran politicians.
Labour member Tony Gee made the comment during a heated debate about the Liberal Democrats’ decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives.
Lib Dem Ken Ball became the authority’s deputy leader.
One of his roles is to sit in a nine-strong panel of councillors tasked with picking a successor to chief executive Donna Hall, who is taking the number two’s job at Wigan Council.
The coalition controls five of the nine seats on the panel and it was during a debate about this at this week’s full council meeting that Coun Gee branded Chorley a “Mickey Mouse council”.
The remark prompted a furious response from the Conservatives.
Coun Alan Platt, who represents Astley and Buckshaw ward, said: “Let me assure Donna Hall and all the hard-working staff this is a view not held by myself and colleagues.
“I would suggest a public apology from Coun Gee, who really needs to learn to engage brain before putting mouth into gear and a statement from the leader of the Labour group distancing himself and his group.”
Coun Tony Gee was first selected in 1972 and, other than a three-year spell, has been a councillor ever since.
He will not sit on the panel to choose the new chief executive.
Coun Gee, who represents Chorley South West, admitted it was an unfortunate choice of words, but said it was not a criticism of town hall staff.
He said: “The comment came after I (sarcastically) congratulated Ken Ball on his deputy leadership.
“I then congratulated him on his negotiating skills with (leader) Peter Goldsworthy as the Lib Dems only have two members but one is the council’s deputy leader and the other is the chair of licensing.
“I then genuinely congratulated Donna Hall on her appointment at Wigan.
“I said that Chorley, in comparison to Wigan, was a Mickey Mouse council.
“Wigan is one of the biggest councils in the country and Chorley is a minnow in comparison.
“I should have used the word minnow instead of Mickey Mouse.”
Labour leader Alistair Bradley said Coun Gee’s comments were not those of the party.
He said: “Several of backbench councillors took exception to the way the Liberal Democrat leader Ken Ball had entered into a coalition with the Tories, at the same time as criticising Nick Clegg for doing the same thing nationally.”
Coun Bradley said the coalition gave the Conservatives and Lib Dems a majority in choosing the next chief executive.
“It was taken out of context,” he said. It’s not the view of the Labour party.
“Chorley is a significant council in its own right.
“We accept Donna’s decision to go to Wigan, but that is not to belittle Chorley in any way whatsoever.”