Bully fears at Grafton House

MORE than 300 town hall staff may have been the victim of bullying or discrimination in the workplace, it was claimed today.

MORE than 300 town hall staff may have been the victim of bullying or discrimination in the workplace, it was claimed today.

Alarming results of a staff survey indicate that 17 per cent of staff at Ipswich Borough Council felt that they have been bullied or discriminated against at the council.

The survey was calculated from 499 responses, meaning at least 85 staff at the council feel they have been bullied or discriminated against.

Labour politicians at the authority say the true figure will be over 300 if the survey is representative of all of the council's 1,782 employees.

Martin Cook, Labour's spokesman on human resources issues, said: “The fact that 300 members of staff have been on the receiving end of bullying behaviour but only five have had felt able to it report is indicative of the climate of fear that is hanging over the council at the moment.

“As a matter of urgency the Council needs to strengthen the whistle-blowing process for dealing with bullying.

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“Staff must feel safe to come forward”.

At a meeting of Ipswich Council's human resources committee on Wednesday Mr Cook proposed that the council's process for dealing with such incidents be reviewed, a motion that was voted down.

John Carnell, deputy leader of the Tory administration, said Labour's figures were misleadingly based on all council employees including part time and occasional staff rather than the 1,300 full time employees.

He said: “I think the Labour group are just trying to manipulate this for party political purposes.

“We have a bullying and harassment policy based on an ACAS model, and have done training for staff to show how the system works.

“There have only been two complaints upheld so there seems to be no reason at all for changing the current approach.”

Concerns about alleged bullying at the council surfaced in June after an official Audit Commission report revealed council inspectors were told by a number of staff that “some councillors” had been acting inappropriately.

The matter was taken up by Labour group leader David Ellesmere called for an urgent review of the council's bullying procedures claiming in a meeting that there is an “atmosphere of bullying and intimidation” at the council.

Are you concerned about bullying at the council? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk