COUNCILLORS are in disagreement over access to the Mayor’s Parlour following an allegation of assault.
The police are investigating the incident, which involved two councillors, and this has sparked debate between the Charter Trustees as to who should have access to the parlour.
When Coun Ian Stokes took over from Coun Mike Taylor as Mayor of Grantham at the end of May he got the choice over the accessibility rules of the Mayor’s Parlour.
He decided to share the keycode for the door with his deputy, the mayor’s officer and staff, meaning the Charter Trustees have to knock on the door to gain access. He also decided not to publish a monthly list of functions planned to take place in the parlour.
Coun Taylor said: “When I was mayor the parlour was used as a tea stop. I put a stop to that because it was disturbing the staff who wanted to get on with work. So I said only certain people could have access.”
He stopped past mayors being able to access the parlour at all times.
He said: “This is at the discretion of each mayor but to stop anybody getting in is just wrong. We are waiting for a meeting to discuss all of that.”
Coun Taylor said that when he was mayor selected people were given the code to allow access to the parlour and it was also given to any member of the Charter Trustees that asked for it.
But this is no longer the case, Anne Mason, who works at the parlour, said: “Just the staff and the mayor have the keycode, that’s historically how it’s been.”
She added that the building is open to the public at certain times when a sign is posted outside but security is taken into consideration as there are valuables in the room.
If councillors want to visit they can ring the bell and be let into the parlour. But anyone can make an appointment to visit and is encouraged to.
Coun Charmaine Morgan, who is leader of the Labour group, thinks the Mayor’s Parlour and the activities should be more public. She believes that all of the Charter Trustee meetings should be public as well as them having full acccess to the parlour.
She said: “Charter Trustees should be able to pop into the parlour at anytime. It’s not helpful if you don’t know when you can do that.”
Coun Morgan said that under previous mayors a list of engagements, when the parlour is not open, have been published so that councillors who wanted access could avoid those times.
She added: “It’s pretty ridiculous and insulting now because you can be turned away at the door if you don’t know what’s happening. That’s what happened to Coun Mark Ashberry.
“He saw the mayor was there and having attended the torch relay he went to say hello. He was turned away by the mayor. There is more to it but I can’t say much. An incident subsequently occurred as a result when Coun Ashberry knocked on the door which is being investigated by the police.”
Coun Morgan said that she and the other Labour councillors have never had keycode access to the parlour and until recently she was not aware that some Conservative councillors previously knew the entry code.
She added: “Trustees should be trusted and should have access.”
Police spokesman James Newall said: “We received a report of an assault on June 28 at an address in St Peter’s Hill. The victim is a 30-year-old local man and investigations are on-going. No arrests have been made.”
The mayor was not available for comment.