A SENIOR Darlington councillor has defended his involvement in a land dispute concerning the partner of another cabinet member.

Joan and Robert Archbold, of Kennel Lane, off Haughton Green, say Labour councillor Chris McEwan should not have written a letter at the request of their neighbour, Angela Carlyon, girlfriend of Councillor David Lyonette.

As reported in The Northern Echo on Monday, they are locked in a row with Ms Carlyon over an untaxed car which she has parked on land which does not belong to anyone, outside her home.

In 2001, Coun McEwan, cabinet member for public protection, wrote to the Land Registry to try to help settle the disagreement.

But he did not address or date his letter and it was later used in court by Ms Carylon during a civil action brought against her by the Archbolds.

They said Ms Carylon had destroyed plants they had planted on the unregistered land and she was ordered to pay them £130 at Middlesbrough County Court.

The couple said Coun McEwan, their ward councillor, should not have written the letter, and complained to the Standards Board of England that he had tried to use his position to improperly secure an advantage for a friend.

The board decided last month to take no action because Coun McEwan's letter was written before Darlington adopted the national code of conduct for councillors.

Coun McEwan said: "Mrs Carylon is an acquaintance. She approached me and asked me as her local councillor.

"I can't remember why I didn't date or address it. It was a mistake on my part. My letter was totally disregarded in the court case.

"The Archbolds have never contacted me but I'm quite willing to sit down with them. I await their call."

Coun Lyonette and Ms Carylon have asked police to mediate in the dispute.