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OTTERY: No further action taken over council complaints
Thursday, 03 April 2014
Ottery town councillors have been told to seek “team building” training and “mentoring support”, following an investigation into a long-running dispute.
The investigation was called for following a town council meeting in December, where it was alleged Councillor Roger Giles had broken confidentiality rules.
Denise Lyon, the East Devon District Council monitoring officer, delivered an official report last week, after 24 complaints were submitted to the town council.
Ten of the complaints referred to the way the council operates, and a further 14 were about individual councillors’ actions.
Mrs Lyon had the option to refer the situation for further investigation but chose only to urge councillors to “reflect on their behaviour”. She also suggested councillors should work together to build “respectful relationships”.
A more detailed report was produced but only sections have been made publically available.
In the report, Mrs Lyon says: “I have decided not to refer the complaints for formal investigation but suggest to the town council that they reflect on events, their behaviour and my advice and consider what they might learn for the future.
“I recognise that the potential for aggressive and unpleasant behaviour has been heightened by recent events. However, I am concerned that the future democratic health of the council depends on respectful relationships.
“In my view, a clear focus on well-managed debate that encourages active listening and fair comment is key to bringing about change.”
She also recommended specific options for the council to consider, including:
l officer training and mentoring support in council
administration and process for all council staff;
l chairing meetings training for all members
who hold this position;
l assertiveness and team building training for the whole council in order to set ground rules for
behaviour during meetings.
In response to the verdict, Councillor Giles said: “I am unhappy with the report – this was a specific and very serious allegation but the monitoring officer’s verdict is vague. It is a far from satisfactory response.
“The whole thing stank and there was no fair play and no justice – I was wrongly accused in public and at the very least I should get a public apology.”
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