Council rocked by bullying claims

BULLYING allegations have erupted in Ipswich's corridors of power amid claims a leading politician has been behaving improperly towards staff.The startling allegations came to light in an official Audit Commission report which revealed council inspectors were told by a number of staff that “some councillors” had been acting inappropriately.

Neil Puffett

BULLYING allegations have erupted in Ipswich's corridors of power amid claims a leading politician has been behaving improperly towards staff.

The startling allegations came to light in an official Audit Commission report which revealed council inspectors were told by a number of staff that “some councillors” had been acting inappropriately.

The annual report, discussed at a fiery council meeting on Wednesday night, also revealed inspectors had uncovered “isolated incidents of intimidation and bullying” at the council.


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Now it appears the issue goes right to the top of the authority following claims one of the councillors referred to is a member of the ruling executive and has been warned over their behaviour.

During a meeting of the council's human resources committee on Wednesday, Labour group leader David Ellesmere called for an urgent review of the council's bullying procedures.

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Speaking at the meeting, he said: “I am aware an executive councillor has had a warning about inappropriate behaviour to staff.

“This behaviour is unacceptable and is being covered up by this administration.”

Mr Ellesmere said statistics showing that the number of days lost due to stress, depression and anxiety increased from 1,337 in 2004/05 to 2,452 in 2006/07 indicate there is an “atmosphere of bullying and intimidation” at the council.

Deputy leader of the council John Carnall, also speaking at the meeting, argued the matter had been dealt with and was being blown out of proportion.

He said steps have been taken since the Audit Commission report and there was no need to review procedures.

“We have a bullying and harassment policy which provides a procedure for people who think they are being bullied to complain,” he said.

“That policy has been made known to staff and over the next three weeks there are six events to raise awareness of action staff can take if they consider they are being bullied.”

Mr Carnall added that the isolated incidents of intimidation and bullying referred to five allegations made against members of staff, not councillors, two of which were found proved.

James Hehir, chief executive at Ipswich Borough Council, today said “no warnings, no action pending or otherwise” had been taken but the authority declined to comment further.

The councillor allegedly involved in the bullying strongly denied the allegations today.

Do you have concerns about working at Ipswich Borough Council? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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