Page last updated at 08:44 GMT, Saturday, 1 May 2010 09:44 UK

Police speak to Gedling election hopeful

Bruce Laughton
Mr Laughton said he was the victim of political dirty tricks

An election candidate hoping to win the Nottinghamshire's Gedling seat has been spoken to by police about his behaviour towards shopkeepers in Mapperley.

Conservative candidate Bruce Laughton was allegedly confrontational with traders who exhibited posters opposing car parking charges.

Mr Laughton said he apologised if he had upset anyone but was "just campaigning on their behalf".

Police said they spoke to Mr Laughton but he had not committed any offence.

'Frothing at mouth'

Mr Laughton is a Nottinghamshire Conservative county councillor and deputy portfolio holder for Transport and Highways, along with Environment and Sustainability.

Parking charges brought in by Nottinghamshire County Council have upset traders in Mapperley, some of whom have been displaying posters with the slogan: "Tory Parking Charges Are Killing Our High Street".

Trader Julie Sands who runs a gallery which displayed the posters said Mr Laughton had been very angry.

Ms Sands, a Labour supporter said: "He was physically frothing from the mouth, he was just so angry."

Another trader, Mark Brinley, who runs a pet shop said he had been confronted by Mr Laughton.

"I had a bit of an altercation with him and he didn't like the Tory bit [on the posters] so I cut that off and the next thing we know he's stomping up and down, calling us all up and complaining about the posters, saying he wants them all ripping down."

'Bitter rivalry'

A statement issued by the Gedling Conservatives said the whole episode had been politically motivated.

"This has not been the only occurrence of dirty tricks by Labour locally," the statement said.

"Knowing that the Labour candidate is likely to lose the seat, the party has decided to publish attack literature and behave in an inappropriate manner at a recent hustings held in the constituency."

Labour candidate Vernon Coaker said: "We totally refute this. These comments about the behaviour have come from shopkeepers who said what happened.

I am disappointed though that the Gedling campaign has descended into what seems to be bitter local rivalry
Julia Bateman, Liberal Democrat candidate

"One person said they were a Conservative supporter but they found the behaviour unacceptable."

Liberal Democrat candidate Julia Bateman said: "I do not want to comment on the reported behaviour of one particular Parliamentary candidate.

"I am disappointed though that the Gedling campaign has descended into what seems to be bitter local rivalry.

"That's why I am here to offer the Lib Dems as an alternative."

BBC East Midlands Politics Editor John Hess said the incident was reported to police by Labour candidate Vernon Coaker's agent.

Police issued a statement saying: "Nottinghamshire Police received a complaint from a member of the public.

"They spoke to an individual about his actions and advice was given to him.

"No criminal offences were caused and there will be no further action."

The candidates announced for Gedling are:

Stephen Adcock, British National Party; Julia Bateman, Liberal Democrat; Vernon Coaker, Labour; Bruce Laughton, Conservative; Dave Marshall, UK Independence Party.

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