'˜Dysfunctional' Council under spotlight

Preesall Town Council, several of whose feuding members have been cleared of breaking standards rules following an inquiry, has been criticised as 'dysfunctional.'

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 1:17 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:42 pm
Wyre Councils standards monitoring officer Mrs Liesl Hadgraft

A raft of allegations had been made by various councillors against some of their colleagues including :
lying at a council meeting
misogynistic behaviour

harassment and bullying

 making unfounded accusations, 

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 making sarcastic and unwarranted comments.

Even though most allegations have been thrown out, Wyre Council’s standards monitoring officer Mrs Liesl Hadgraft labelled them “tit for tat complaints.”

Mrs Hadgraft told Wyre Council Standards committee she had met town council members last month to “get the council working together in a more productive way for the good of the community it served.”

The minutes of the Standards committee state: “There had been some fall-out following the meeting [with Preesall Council] which suggested that some of the councillors did not see anything wrong with their behaviour.. and had no intention of changing.” 

When Wyre Standards committee discussed the Preesall problems, Wyre Coun Marge Anderton said members: “Sound very dysfunctional.”

Preesall town councillors have also been told by Wyre standards bosses that further similar complaints would be ignored and multiple complaints would be considered to be vexatious.

When Wyre Standards committee discussed the Preesall problems, Wyre Coun Marge Anderton wondered if the town council members should have some kind of training, adding, “They sound very dysfunctional.”

Responding to a comment made by Mrs Hadgraft at the Standards committee about Preesall Council being seen in a bad light, Coun Paul Moon said it was individual councillors involved, not the council itself, and that it was unfair to generalise.

Mrs Hadgraft responded that the cases involved eight individual councillors, though she agreed: “We should not generalise.”

Even though the ruling in most of the complaints was that “no breach of the code of conduct” had been found, Mrs Hadgraft said the matter HAD identified issues “including poor behavioural issues and ‘tit for tat’ complaints.”

The list of councillor versus councillor complaints included a claim of “misogynistic behaviour.” At the Wyre Standards committee Coun Moon queried the meaning of “misogynistic” and how to pronounce it.

Standards officials singled out two cases where a breach of the council’s code of conduct had been found. One involved a former Preesall Council employee who claims her reputation had been damaged by “unfounded allegations and inappropriate comments.”

The town councillors involved in that case have not been formally named, but are known to be Coun Pat Greenhough and Coun Barry Campbell

Mr Campbell, who started a second term on the Council in August 2015 has resigned his council seat. He said recent events had ‘been a bit of a shock.’

In his letter of resignation he said he could not fulfil his role as a councillor “in the manner that I feel I should” adding that he was leaving with his head “held high in the knowledge that I did the best that I could do for both the council and my community.” Speaking to the Courier he added: “I can’t be different to how I am.”

The Courier contacted Coun Greenhough but she had not responded in time for our deadline  The cost to Wyre Council taxpayers for the standards investigation is about £3,000