A COUNCILLOR has apologised for calling York's Lord Mayor and opposition leader "seriously obese" during a council meeting.

Cllr Anna Semlyen faced criticism after tweeting messages about two fellow councillors' weight, while the Lord Mayor of York Ian Gillies was chairing a full meeting of the city council, and Conservative leader Chris Steward was across the chamber.

She wrote: "Tories Steward & Gillies seriously obese. Not good examples for public health. Labour slimmers doing great. Barnes 3 st lighter."

The Labour councillor posted the message in the midst of a debate that saw both council leader James Alexander and Conservative group leader Chris Steward make reference to their weight.

In an exchange between the two, Cllr Steward had said that while the council leader had lost 40 percent of his body weight, he needed to do the same.

But seeing Cllr Semlyen's tweet, he said he was "absolutely dumbfounded" by the irony of the comments, made on a night when the council was to consider a motion on councillor behaviour.

Cllr Gillies said he was appalled by what he considered to be personal abuse.

Cllr Semlyen has since apologised to both men, saying she realised that making unsolicited comments about other people's weight is "not very nice."

She also said while she was responding to Cllr Steward's own comments about his weight, she should not have involved Cllr Gillies.

At that meeting Cllr Steward had himself proposed a motion calling for an independent report on whether councillors' behaviour falls below that expected by staff and residents in the city.

An amendment by Cllr Alexander called for the report to take into account "the personalised politics being exhibited within York by elected members and their supporters - more notably on social media."

The motion with the amendment passed, despite points of order from councillors Paul Firth, Mark Warters and Tony Richardson who asked whether the behaviour of members of the public could be investigated by the council.