Bullying and sexism accusations behind huge rise in complaints against Brentwood councillors
14:00 31 January 2014
Accusations of bullying and sexism are just some of the reasons behind a huge rise in the number of official complaints made against Brentwood councillors.
Last year a total of 14 complaints were levelled against members, Freedom of Information data obtained by resident Patricia Smith shows, whereas there were just eight in the previous three years combined.
Eight of the 2013 complaints concerned councillors’ behaviour to other members or officers.
Cllr Karen Chilvers, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Three of the complaints were by me. I think there are a number more complaints that could be made too.
“In the full council meeting, they spent two hours bullying me and they wanted me removed as I scrutinised them. I allowed a vote of no confidence and rather than doing something about it they bullied me instead. They wanted my head on a plate.”
She added: “It’s a joke; they might as well not bother with the complaints system. Complaints get brushed under the carpet time and time again.”
Last year, Brentwood Conservative Cllr John Kerslake was forced to apologise after he commented on the director of strategy and corporate service’s “elegantly formed” bottom at a town hall meeting.
The Labour group leader, Cllr Mike Le-Surf, said that he believed most complaints were not being properly debated by the council.
“You half think: ‘Is my opinion counted here?’” he said.
“[The council] is run in such a style that everyone’s getting very frustrated.
“Hopefully, in the future, everyone will be better behaved.”
The council leader, Cllr Louise McKinlay, said: “The numbers look high but, with the exception of one complaint last year, there was no case found.
“All members have a responsibility to act in a way that reflects the position to which they have been elected – no matter what party they belong to.”