Bingham mayor defends his council against bullying allegations after his predecessor and current deputy harassed their town clerk
A mayor has defended his council against allegations of bullying.
In a heated full meeting of Bingham Town Council on Tuesday, mayor Andrew Shelton said the council did not condone bullying.
It followed a report by a barrister that found former mayor John Stockwood and deputy mayor Francis Purdue-Horan had harassed the town clerk.
Mr Stockwood and Mr Purdue-Horan, who had been suspended from the Conservative Party the previous day, attended the meeting. There was no mention that they had been suspended.
Mr Shelton said: “This decision issued by the borough council did not include findings of bullying. We are against bullying and Bingham Town Council does not condone bullying. The council is considering recommendations on the decision notice.
“The town council has no legal power to alter or enforce sanctions. Basically, all we can do is note the report — we can’t actually take any action.”
Labour councillor Tony Wallace replied: “I’m distancing myself from this. I’m obliged to as an individual of the town, a member of this committee and the deputy president of a national trade union; I do not accept that statement.
“There’s a clear decision in here that a member of staff was harassed and repeatedly treated unfairly and subjected to oppressive behaviour — and that is not a situation with which this council should remain silent. It’s shocking.
“Mr Mayor, I think that is abhorrent in this day and age for any employer to treat a member of staff in that way — I’ll be 100% clear on this — I think that’s a disgraceful position for the council to find itself in and I’m quite prepared to stand up here this evening and say I’m absolutely ashamed that is the finding that has been levelled at this council.”
Mr Stockwood said: “We are moving forward with the training, and agreeing the way forward on all three points (recommendations).”
Former councillor Tony Fox said: “Mr Mayor, the elephant in the room is the Rushcliffe Borough Council decision notice dated July 21, 2021, which finds two senior members of the council guilty of breaking the code on three occasions. The matter in question is serious and it seems to me it brings this council again in to disrepute.
“My question, under all these restrictions, can only be this: Is this council content its reputation is seriously damaged and can the public have confidence that such an event will not be repeated?”
Mr Shelton said the council was considering the recommendations of the report.
The report was discussed by the council in secret under confidential items.
Mr Fox said: “This is ridiculous. You said at the beginning you would deal with my question when we got to this item of the agenda.
“You’ve now passed it and not given me the courtesy of a response.”
Mr Shelton said: “I thought I’d given you an answer.
“In this council, I think we’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again but in ten years’ time, we cannot speak for those people.”
Mr Fox walked out.
Mr Wallace added: “My employer certainly wouldn’t stand by and say nothing on a report like this — but I’ll leave that to you Mr Mayor.”
A Rushcliffe Borough Council spokesman said: “Following a standards committee hearing, a decision notice was published on the council’s website on July 28.
“This clearly sets out the findings and sanctions of the notice.”
Of the suspensions, chairman of Newark Conservative Association Stuart Wallace said: “At a meeting of the Newark Conservative Association management team held on Monday, August 2, it was determined the membership of the Conservative Party was being suspended pending formal expulsion proceedings of councillors Francis Purdue-Horan and and John Stockwood.
“Any member suspended from the party may not participate in Conservative Party activities, including attendance of meeting or social events.
“In due course, formal expulsion proceedings will be held.”