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Skipton town crier 'victim of smear campaign'
11:28am Thursday 16th August 2012 in News
Skipton ’s town crier says he is the victim of a campaign to hound him out of town.
Kevin Griffith has pointed the finger at town councillors whom he claims have been spurred on by a Skipton shopkeeper.
He confesses to calling one councillor an idiot and then being reported to Skipton Town Council for using threatening behaviour.
At issue is his use of Craven District Council’s town centre car park where he meets coaches and advises visitors where they can get refreshments.
But Craven Council has told Skipton Town Council - whose mayor ceremonially appoints the town crier - that he is breaking the bylaws which prevent commercial activity on council land.
The two-time town crier national champion, who has been in post since 2006, now fears his right to carry on his role could be revoked.
Mr Griffith said: “There is a campaign against me. Maybe this town doesn’t deserve representation, shame on all those who are hell-bent on destroying me.”
He believes it is being spearheaded by one particular shopkeeper who is “ill informed” but has found allies within Skipton Town Council.
“I have had members of the council harassing me for being in the car park and on one occasion when a councillor was being very ignorant as I was trying to talk to him I called him an idiot.
“He went away and reported me for using threatening language towards him. Maybe insulting but not threatening.”
Mr Griffith, who promotes the Red Lion, The Castle Inn, Rafter’s Cafe, Sarsaparilla’s sweet shop and the Pie and Mash shop, stresses that he is not officially employed by the town council but is given £500 expenses which he rarely claims and does not cover the costs of promoting Skipton elsewhere in competitions.
But Dave Parker, Skipton Town Council’s chief officer, said it was not true that there was a campaign to drive Mr Griffith out of town but the issue related to his “commercial” activity on the car park which was against Craven District Council bylaws.
“The town crier is an honorary position in the gift of the town council and we don’t want the position brought into disrepute,” said Mr Parker. “We are not trying to stop him earning a living. We are happy to support him if he wants to promote people on public land but by greeting coaches in the car park he is breaching the bylaws.”
The council could not be seen to be supporting certain businesses at the expense of others which was what was happening at present, he said.