Clashes among Grantham Labour councillors revealed in leaked report

Mayor of Grantham Ian Selby
Mayor of Grantham Ian Selby
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A leaked report into accusations of bullying and intimidation within the local Labour group has uncovered a “high degree of animosity and uncomradely behaviour” between members.

An inquiry was started last year by the East Midland Regional Board of the party following a number of complaints from various people within the South Kesteven District Labour Group.

Mark Ashberry (Lab) ENGEMN00120130422123101

Mark Ashberry (Lab) ENGEMN00120130422123101

The investigation looked into accusations of bullying and intimidation against three Labour councillors who all represent the Harrowby ward in Grantham. One complaint was against Couns Ian Selby, the current Mayor of Grantham, and his deputy, Coun Bruce Wells. Another complaint was made against Harrowby ward councillor Mark Ashberry. In both cases the report said that there was clearly “much rancour on all sides” but neither complaint was upheld.

The inquiry also looked into complaints of breach of rules regarding a submission by Couns Selby and Wells on the review of ward boundaries by SKDC and also comments by Coun Selby in the Grantham Journal. Neither complaint was upheld.

In February last year Coun Selby made comments to the Journal about a counter demonstration by the Grantham Solidarity Network involving Coun Charmaine Morgan, leader of the SKDC Labour group, and her husband John, against an English Defence League march in town. Coun Selby was quoted saying: “I don’t think the Morgans know what they are doing”.

In his report, inquiry chairman Andy Furlong said Coun Selby had apologised and added that his remark “while unhelpful does not constitute an attack on party colleagues”.

Bruce Wells ENGEMN00120121121125219

Bruce Wells ENGEMN00120121121125219

In his conclusion Mr Furlong said the panel had uncovered “a high degree of animosity and uncomradely behaviour between members. None of the central figures emerge in a particularly good light and the events described in this report may have damaged the reputation and standing of the Labour Party in Grantham.”

Mr Furlong adds: “In view of the ongoing mistrust and tension between key figuresin the local party, the inquiry recommends that the selection process for a parliamentary candidate for the 2015 general election be overseen and chaired by an independent party member nominated by the East Midlands Regional Board.”

The parliamentary candidate for the Grantham and Stamford constituency is due to be announced on March 14, less than two months before the General Election.

The report says next week’s selection of candidates for the Harrowby ward for the district elections will also be overseen by an independent member of the party. Following the changes in ward boundaries, there will only be two seats available in the Harrowby ward instead of the current three.

Couns Selby and Ashberry said they did not wish to comment on the inquiry. At the time of going to press, Coun Wells had not responded.

Coun Charmaine Morgan said the inquiry “has come to a conclusion and there are no significant findings.”