The leader of South Bucks District Council (SBDC) survived a vote of no confidence last week after he was branded “petulant, disruptive and downright destructive” by a fellow Conservative councillor.

During a meeting of SBDC on Wednesday, February 27, councillor for Denham, Barry Harding, slammed leader Nick Naylor for his role in plans to take legal action against the government over the set up of the unitary council.

He accused Cllr Naylor of “prioritising his own agenda of self-service and political aspiration” to become the deputy leader of the new council and criticised his “cavalier” attitude towards spending thousands of pounds on the legal action.

Cllr Harding said: “Can the leader share with us here as local councillors what he is doing specifically to make local government reorganisation work in Buckinghamshire for our residents, despite his activities in being petulant, disruptive and downright obstructive towards the shadow executive and the decision taken by the secretary of state.”

Cllr Harding’s comments come after the leaders of South Bucks, Chiltern and Wycombe district councils agreed to take legal action against the government over unitary plans in January.

Council leaders criticised secretary of state, James Brokenshire’s, “undemocratic” decision to appoint leader of Bucks County Council, Martin Tett, as the leader of the shadow executive – which will be tasked with setting up the new council.

Cllr Naylor hit back – questioning if Cllr Harding had “lost his mind” and slammed his “desperate and outrageous comments”.

He said: “Madam chairman – has the councillor lost his mind? Or is he just away with the fairies on a flight of fancy? Where is the evidence for the desperate and outrageous claims he has made? And who is his source regarding the leader and the deputy leader of the new authority? I have to say that this is news to me and I would guess it is news to most of you in the room.”

Presenting the motion of no confidence, Cllr Harding slammed the leader’s “cavalier attitude”  towards spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ cash on taking legal action.

He said: “The use of a judicial review will now only lead to delay and impasse of the important work that needs to be done by the shadow executive. Therefore, I propose a vote of no confidence in the leader, Cllr Naylor.”

Cllr Naylor went on to assure members “the proper governance process” was followed when the cabinet agreed to push forward with legal action.

Councillors then spoke in support of Cllr Naylor, with Cllr Duncan Smith stating: “I worked as a cabinet member under three leaders.

“I cannot think of anyone who has worked as hard for all the residents. The suggestion that he has done this so he might have a position in the future authority is just ridiculous, and therefore I shall be voting against this.”

Cllr Ralph Bagge added the justifications for Cllr Harding’s motion “are absolutely groundless”.

He said: “The actions that have been taken have been dealt with the full support of this council, or the majority of this council, following the due democratic process.

“To personalise this in terms of Cllr Naylor’s behaviour is reprehensible. Cllr Naylor has my full support.”

The motion was voted down – with 18 councillors voting against, two for, while four abstained.