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Councillor and shop owner in parking row.

Byline: SIMON GILBERT Chief Reporter

COVENTRY City Council will not take action after a senior Labour councillor became embroiled in a parking row.

Shop owner Rimma Lobrekte accused Cllr John Mutton, cabinet member for finance, of angrily berating her and threatening to damage her car when a row over parking spaces broke out.

Cllr Mutton denied speaking angrily or threatening to damage her car - but admitted he had said he would bump it over after Ms Lobrekte blocked him in when he parked in spaces allocated for her shop.

The council threw out an official complaint as the council's legal manager Helen Lynch said that the dispute was a "private matter" and not relevant to the council's code of conduct.

Ms Lynch also dismissed Ms Lobrekte's claims that Cllr Mutton had made reference to her nationality and considered himself "higher" than her because she was "a young foreigner".

Ms Lobrekte, 31, owns the Rudens Latvian food shop at the Canal Basin. The Latvian-born businesswoman has lived and worked in UK since March 2010 and is also studying accountancy.

She claimed that, on Saturday May 29, Cllr Mutton had parked in two of the spaces allocated for her business and she blocked his car in as there was nowhere else to park.

Ms Lobrekte said a row then broke out over the parking and Cllr Mutton had reacted angrily by threatening to damage her car. She also claims the councillor gave her his card while suggesting the police would believe his account over Ms Lobrekte's if they were called.

Ms Lobrekte said: "After this incident I felt very bad. I couldn't imagine that person who is on such a high position could behave this way. He is a 69-year-old man who did not respect a young woman.

"Coventry City Council disappointed me as I was hoping for an apology but they believed Mr Mutton more then me."

Cllr Mutton did not respond to repeated requests for comment from the Telegraph, but he did issue a reply to the complaint via a letter to the council's legal manager Helen Lynch.

It is understood, in that letter, he said the incident had occurred as he visited his son's fishing tackle shop in the area.

He admitted parking in Ms Lobrekte's space and that he had crossed the lines slightly.

But he denied speaking angrily and said workers in a nearby hair salon would back that statement up.

Cllr Mutton was also adamant that he did not threaten to damage her car, but he did admit he said he would ask his grandson to help bump the car over if she refused to move it.

Cllr Mutton said Ms Lobrekte had got agitated, started accusing him of being rude and took photos of his car. He said it was at that stage he gave her his card because she said that she didn't know him and didn't know if he was related to the owner of the fishing shop - his son.

Cllr Mutton said he told Ms Lobrekte that blocking his car was illegal and that he would call the police, but when he got his phone out she moved her vehicle.

Helen Lynch, the council's legal manager, said she had investigated the incident and spoken to a witness.

In a response to Ms Lobrekte's complaint, she said: "He says that he said words to the effect that 'you don't know who I am' in trying to explain his son is also a tenant at the Canal Basin.

"He gave you his business card so that you could see he was related to his son who owns the fishing tackle shop.

"The witness gave a different version of events to those set out in your complaint. She told me that the argument started when Cllr Mutton entered into your shop and went through the storage room and started shouting at you."

She added: "You allege that Cllr Mutton considered himself to be 'higher' than you because you are 'a young foreigner' but you do not provide any evidence to suggest that Cllr Mutton said anything related to your nationality."

The response added: "For a councillor to be caught by the member code of conduct, they must be acting in their official capacity/holding themselves out as such.

"The fact that you did not realise Cllr Mutton was a Councillor until after the dispute suggests that this was a private matter and not one that is caught by the code of conduct.

"For these reasons, I am unable to take any further action in respect of your complaint."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jun 27, 2017
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