A former mayor has been told she should be publicly ticked off for calling a member of the public “arrogant” and “obnoxious”.

Cllr Rosie Adams made the remarks in emails to an unnamed third party in October last year during the height of a row over who should be running the Totnes neighbourhood plan process.

A code of conduct panel’s first option was that Cllr Adams should publicly apologise to the person she had verbally attacked.

But when the councillor – who was mayor of Totnes at the time and is currently deputy mayor – made it clear she had no intention of apologising over her comments, the panel was forced to recommended she be censured instead.

Panel chairman Cllr Mike Saltern said the recommendation was that Cllr Adams be censured for a breach of the council’s code of conduct for not treating a member of the public with courtesy and respect.

He said a censure amounted to a “public admonishment” and it was up to the town council to carry out the panel’s recommendation.

The South Hams code of conduct panel, made up of three district councillors sitting alongside an independent member, made its

recommendation after a 30-minute hearing at Follaton House.

Cllr Adams did not attend the hearing but she opposed code of conduct investigating officer Simon Mansell’s finding that she had breached the code of conduct.

The complaint against Cllr Adams had been made by her fellow town councillor Tony Whitty.

In a statement to the hearing, she claimed Cllr Whitty was pursuing a “personal vendetta” against her, as she explained her comments had been made to the chairman of neighbourhood plan steering group in a private and confidential emails.

She said the person she was talking about had been “arrogant and rude” about the town council and councillors.

And she told the panel: “I am not going to apologise for telling the truth. As far as I am concerned, everything has been said.”

The two emails from Cllr Adams, sent while she was mayor of Totnes, were written against the background of a row about the future of the town’s neighbourhood plan.

In the end, the town council sacked the neighbourhood plan team, amid complaints about the way it was carrying out the job, and took on the work of continuing the plan process itself.

Cllr Whitty made a number of complaints about Cllr Adams’ conduct but the investigating officer upheld just one breach, involving the two emails sent on October 12 and 13 last year.

Mr Mansell said the panel had to decide whether Cllr Adams had breached the section of code dictating that councillors should be respectful and courteous from the view of a reasonable person reading the emails.

He said that while the email might have been meant as a private communication, there is never any certainty that emails are not passed on.

And he warned that people should “never put anything in an email that you would not want to see on a page in The Sun”.

Cllr Adams said that while she had written the emails, Cllr Whitty had not been present when she had met with the person concerned and they “shook hands with a balanced understanding that harsh words were said on both sides”.

She said they had spoken for an hour and “worked out our differences”.

She added: “The apologies are all done.”