A CAMPAIGNER who was branded "mischievous, vexatious and, quite possibly, malicious" by York council leader Steve Galloway has hit out after being denied the right of reply at a meeting.

Mark Warters, of Osbaldwick, claims he was "gagged" when he applied to speak at a City Strategy Meeting earlier this week.

He said he had been denied the right to speak under the council's public participation scheme by officers, who claimed that his comments would not have related to the items under debate at the meeting. The Press reported last month how Mr Warters, who was campaigning against the closure of a public footpath at Osbaldwick, was publicly criticised by Coun Galloway at a City Strategy meeting in December.

Mr Warters claimed such comments could deter others in future from exercising their democratic rights to raise objections to matters.

Mr Warters said today that, having been denied the right to speak at this week's meeting, he had instead written a letter to members, saying he would like to have offered Coun Galloway a chance to withdraw his remarks and formally apologise.

"Obviously, if those remarks are not withdrawn they will form the basis of a formal complaint to the council's Standards Board."

He also raised the absence of any reference to Coun Galloway's comments in the minutes of the December meeting.

"Therefore I would like to request that members enter Coun Galloway's comments (if not withdrawn) into the minutes of the December 11 meeting, prior to signing those minutes off.

"I do find it surprising that members can make personal remarks about individuals in a public, open forum without those remarks being officially recorded and without the slighted individual being given any right of a reply."

He said he would now be complaining to the Standards Board.

Green councillor Andy D'Agorne claimed the comments showed contempt for a member of the public living in the relevant area, and were said at a time when Mr Warters was unable to defend himself.

But Coun Galloway defended his position, saying: "There is a serious side to this." He said if a single objector, such as Mr Warters, had his way over the footpath and forced a public inquiry, it would jeopardise the security of homes near the footpath at Osbaldwick, and taxpayers would have to pick up the bill.

Coun Galloway said he had no involvement with or influence over who registered to speak at strategy meetings.

A City of York Council spokeswoman said: "Mr Warters requested to speak at the meeting on an issue of member conduct. The council's head of civic, democratic and legal services, advised Mr Warters that it would be inappropriate to raise such an issue at the meeting, but did advise him of the correct procedure for making a complaint about a councillor."