Two Shaftesbury town councillors have been told their actions have brought the council into disrepute.

Peter Yeo and Karen Tippins have been ordered to make a full apology at the next town council meeting and attend an approved code of conduct course.

A Dorset Council hearing heard that Cllr Peter Yeo had been excluded from meetings five times in the past year after trying to question the council’s spending.

He was also found to have made an obscene gesture to a committee chairman and repeatedly mouthed a rude word after his microphone was turned off at one online meeting.

Cllr Tippins admitted that she called fellow councillor Michael Welch ‘an idiot’ and ‘thick’ although she later apologised – but said she had been provoked.

Both councillors claim there has been a campaign against them after they started to question the council’s proposals to spend half a million pounds on a 3G pitch for the town football club – roughly equivalent to the council’s annual budget.

Cllr Tippins was also found to have been disrespectful to a football club speaker by turning her back – although she says three other councillors were in the same position because of the way their chairs had been laid out – but no action had been taken against the others.

At a hearing before a Dorset Council panel on Friday Cllr Tippins argued that debate at a council was expected to be ‘robust’ and was part of the cut and thrust of local politics.

Cllr Yeo criticised the way Dorset Council had carried out the investigation into what he described as ‘trivial allegations’ – and questioned why fellow councillors had not been investigated.

“I have been ejected from five full council meetings…in Shaftesbury they cannot stand councillors speaking out for justice and what’s going wrong,” he told the panel.

“Why are we investigating this? It’s nothing serious. The Localism Act says we should be investigating things which are serious like councillors voting money into their own charity, not trivia like this.”

Witness Richard Thomas told the hearing that in his opinion the two councillors had been improperly barred from doing the jobs they were elected to do.

“No council should systematically be barring any elected members from its functions,” he said.

He told panel members that although both councillors were ‘difficult people’ who could be abrasive and did not understand everything about council procedure, they were still entitled to speak out and represent the people of Shaftesbury who had elected them.

The panel decided that both councillor's conduct had failed to treat others with respect and had fallen below the standards expected.