OPPOSITION groups on Malvern Hills District Council are set to take the council to court after a row over plans to merge the authority's chief executive post with Wychavon council.

At the council's meeting on Tuesday, angry members of the Lib Dem and Democrat groups walked out, charging that a notice of motion brought by the ruling Conservative group was illegal.

The Tories' motion sought to change a decision made last month when the plan to share the chief executive's post was approved.

In that meeting, the words that "the new post is regarded as suitable employment for the current chief executive and managing director" was replaced with a recommendation that the post is "subject to open application and competition".

The Tories' motion sought to change the minutes to restore the original wording.

Opposition councillors said changing the minutes to reflect something that was not agreed at the meeting is illegal, , and Cllr Anthony Warburton produced written legal advice backing up that view.

The Tories quickly reworded the motion. After taking advice from council officers, cllr Mike Morgan, who was chairing the meeting, ruled that the reworded motion should be allowed - prompting the opposition walkout.

The rebel councillors stood outside the Council Chamber while the motion was passed 17-0 with two abstentions.

After the meeting Cllr Julian Roskams, leader of the Democratic group, said: "It's quite possible that we will challenge the decision in the courts as we believe it was taken illegally. We will also be calling for another extraordinary meeting of the council in August to take a second look at the whole issue of the chief executive merger."

Cllr Anthony Warburton said: "I got legal advice and that advice is clear: minutes can only be changed to better reflect the events of the meeting. They can't be changed to give the impression that something took place that didn't take place."

Yesterday, council leader David Hughes dubbed the walkout "irresponsible".

He said: "If legal action is being taken, then there is very little I can say about it now. But it's disappointing that they presented their legal advice at the meeting, not sharing it with officers in advance. And it's clear the walkout was orchestrated. This sort of thing is irresponsible and brings the council into disrepute."