Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber - Municipal Offices. View directions
Contact: Claire Morris, Democracy Officer
Election of Chair
Councillor Barnes was elected as Chair, proposed by Councillor Harman and seconded by Councillor Tailford.
There were none.
Declarations of Interest
There were none.
Complaint against Councillor Charles Taylor
After introductions, the Monitoring Office explained the procedure, as set out at Appendix 2.
The Investigating Officer gave a brief account of the incident as in the circulated report. She said this had been a difficult case to investigate, as it was based on emotions and the Complainant’s personal response to the Subject; he has denied her allegations. In writing her report, she had considered how the subject’s behaviour made the Complainant feel, but also acknowledged that the Complainant’s reaction could have been disproportionate and over-sensitive. However, whatever was said was sufficient to make the Complainant feel distressed enough to leave the meeting and resign from the parish council, and the two witnesses have confirmed that the Subject’s behaviour was inappropriate bordering on aggressive.
She said that parish councils, as a tier of local government and representing local communities, needed to treat people with respect at all times, listen to different views, and afford equal status to everyone. Shouting and arguing was counter-productive, and the meeting should have been postponed and reconvened.
From the testimony, she believed that the Subject lost his temper, that the resulting behaviour was unacceptable because of the distressing effect it had on the Complainant, whether or not it was intended, and in view of this, she considers that a breach of the Code of Conduct took place.
The Complainant considered this to be a fair summing-up of the case. In response to two questions from the Subject, the Investigating Officer confirmed that:
- the testimony of the other person present at the meeting was not included in her report because although she had spoken to her, that person is the subject of a separate complaint about her behaviour at the meeting and it was felt that her comments would not be unbiased;
- a ‘sexist’ comment made by the Complainant about the Subject in an email was not referred to as it was not part of this investigation.
The Subject suggested that the two witnesses for the Complainant could be personal friends of hers and therefore equally unbiased. The Complainant said she didn’t meet either of them until she joined the Parish Council, and hadn’t seen one of them since the meeting in question.
Members of the sub-committee did not have any comments on the Investigating Officer’s report.
The Complainant felt that the Investigating Officer’s report was a good and fair representation of the incident. She said she was not a ‘weak little female’ who couldn’t cope with a robust environment, having worked in two government departments, and she was not afraid of challenges. However, what she experienced at the meeting was horrific, and the two witnesses were present today because the Subject had denied that it was. She added that he had done a lot of good work for the Parish Council, but on that day, his behaviour was aggressive and targeted.
The first witness confirmed that it had been a very difficult meeting, well summed-up by the report, and ... view the full minutes text for item 4.