A SECOND complaint has been submitted to Dudley Council about the behaviour of its under-fire Conservative leader following allegations made in an extraordinary meeting of the council.

Former mayor and council leader Anne Millward, who lost her seat in the May local election after being deselected by the Conservatives, has reported Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the local authority, to the standards committee over accusations made at Monday’s meeting (July 10).

Cllr Harley saw off a Labour motion aimed at ousting him as leader after loyal Tories voted to keep him in place – amid allegations made about his conduct by Councillor Natalie Neale who has since resigned from her cabinet role.

Cllr Neale had sent an email to Cllr Harley that was copied to Dudley Labour and Conservative councillors informing him she would quit if he did not as she did not feel comfortable in his presence.

The email prompted an extraordinary meeting of the council to be held at which Dudley Labour Group attempted to remove Cllr Harley from office.

The bid failed and Cllr Harley, who has refuted the allegations, remains in charge.

But he now faces a possible standards committee hearing following the submission of a complaint made by former council leader Anne Millward, who was the borough’s mayor in 2021/22.

The veteran former councillor for Gornal Wood, who blamed misogyny for her de-selection and recent departure from politics, this morning lodged a formal complaint after it was stated at last night’s meeting that derogatory texts had been sent by the council leader referring to the then Cllr Millward and another senior female Tory councillor.

Conservative councillor and former cabinet member Shaun Keasey, who voted in favour of removing Cllr Harley as leader, made the revelation that texts had been sent branding ex-cllr Millward “a horrible person, no shame, a hypocrite and a liar”.

He said colleagues might remember Cllr Harley expressing sorrow at a full council meeting about the departure of former councillors Millward and Tina Westwood but he added: “It might surprise you therefore to see messages sent to me by Cllr Harley expressing no such sentiment.”

Cllr Millward, in her email to Dudley Council’s monitoring officer and chief executive, said she’d been “shocked and distraught” to hear about the messages, which she said referred to her in “unsavoury” terms, and she added: “The fact that these messages are now in the public domain, for all to hear, is utterly soul destroying.”

She branded the texts “detrimental and deleterious” to her good name and character and “not something I would expect to see from a person in a prominent public role” and she said she wanted her complaint referred to the standards committee.

Councillor Qadar Zada, Labour Group leader, called for Cllr Harley to go after hearing about the complaint “less than 24 hours after the council meeting to discuss the last scandal” and he said: “This proves the point that I have been making. Namely that the conduct of this council leader has created a hostile and undignified environment at the council, especially for women.

“Because of the behaviour of this leader, we are spending more time on these issues than we are on the council business that is essential to tackling the worst cost of living crisis in history.”

Cllr Harley said of former cllr Millward’s complaint: “It’s just more nonsense from people who should know better.”

He said it would “run its course or not” and added that he was “humbled” to have the support of members at the extraordinary meeting and he said he was focussed on the regeneration of Dudley and creating new jobs and he added: “That’s the sort of thing I’m interested in, not ridiculous tittle tattle of who said what.”

He said it was clear “Cllr Zada wishes to get rid of me” but he stressed he remains confident Dudley will remain under Conservative control at the next election.