‘No Finding’ That Isles Of Scilly Councillor Bullied Senior Officer

town hall 11An independent investigation hasn’t found evidence that an Isles of Scilly councillor bullied a senior officer during a meeting.

And in yesterday’s Finance, Audit and Scrutiny meeting, another councillor alleged that Cllr Adrian Davis has not received “fair play” in his treatment.

Monitoring and Legal Officer Richard Burraston started the grievance action following a meeting between himself, Cllrs Grottick and Davis and the Chief Executive Theo Leijser on August 14th.

In that meeting Cllr Davis was said to have been bullying and intimidating, and that he failed to show respect.

It was also alleged that he made comments that were intended to undermine Mr Burraston in the presence of the Chief Executive.

Mr Burraston is the Council’s Monitoring Officer and he would normally deal with this sort of complaint, so it was handed over to Cornwall’s legal team.

They said there were conflicting views over what happened in the meeting, but they “struggled” to find evidence of intimidation and bullying by Cllr Davis.

They made “no finding” as to whether the councillor breached the Council’s Code of Conduct.

Cornwall’s investigator said it was not uncommon for councillors to challenge senior officers and that Cllr Davis is considered by some to be “forthright,” which could be interpreted as “rudeness.”

In their report, Cornwall’s investigator says it is concerning that Mr Burraston, as monitoring officer, resorted to the Code of Conduct complaints process.

They say he “had the opportunity to make robust response to the behaviour at the meeting if he considered it to be inappropriate.”

Cllr Davis says the private meeting was called to discuss a legal paper. He says he was “frustrated” after not receiving the answers he felt he was entitled to.

But he maintains that his conduct in the meeting was reasonable and that he didn’t use any offensive language.

The Council also brought a second complaint against Cllr Davis over a comment he made in a Council meeting on August 4th.

Cllr Davis said that, “it is not always correct to take mainland case law as guidance, that the Isles of Scilly is a unique community and that exclusion from meetings on the basis of having an interest is ridiculous.”

The investigator said the expression of an opinion, even if wrong or contrary to officer advice, is not a breach of the Code of Conduct.

It has been decided that Cllr Davis will now only be allowed to meet with Council officers by appointment and with a third party present.

Cllr Davis says he finds this, “rather insulting and fatuous” and has alleged that the report presented to members at Tuesday’s Council meeting is not the full version of the assessment that he was sent.

Although the standards item was included on the agenda, members were not allowed to discuss the report. They were asked to note its contents instead.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough said he wouldn’t accept it because two versions of the investigators’ report had emerged.

Cllr Bilsborough twice shouted that it was “not fair play.” He wanted his opposition to “noting” the report to be recorded.

We’ve offered the Council a chance to comment.

On Monday we also asked why Cllr Davis would no longer be able to meet with Council management on his own or unless it was a pre-arranged meeting.

The Council Press Office stated that they couldn’t respond until after yesterday morning’s meeting.

So we resubmitted our questions at lunchtime. We also asked how much this legal process has cost the taxpayer.

The Council has not responded to any of our questions.

In their report Cornwall’s assessor says this incident suggests that there “are possibly tensions within the Council of the Isles of Scilly, particularly between councillors and officers.”

The Town Hall has now stated that they’ll address the issue of staff and member relations in a meeting between senior councillors and officers.

8 Responses to ‘No Finding’ That Isles Of Scilly Councillor Bullied Senior Officer

  1. Pensioner December 3, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    This would be the same CE who told us at his public meeting that his door was always open . ”
    ‘Come and talk to me any time”
    I see the honeymoon period is now over..

    • High Lanes Drifter December 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      One trusts that proper separation is being maintained between officers and members, it would be very poor if there was a discreet agenda to silence rightfully inquisitive back benchers.
      The use of the code of conduct was a feeble and inappropriate mechanism to address such an issue, a Chief Executive worthy of the title would have interviewed during the meeting and dealt with the matter if he genuinely felt a member of his staff was subject to bullying.

  2. Jenny December 3, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Who would a Councillor on these Islands? If they don’t ask questions on what is happening in the Council departments they are accused by the electorate on not representing them. If they do ask questions the Officers accuse them of being bullies. Unpleasant truths need to be aired regardless of the fact they make people feel uncomfortable.

  3. Roger Ewe December 3, 2015 at 7:26 am

    I think it’s disgraceful that a councillor can’t demand answers to questions! Councillor Davis was elected to represent us and to ask questions on our behalf. Once again it shows how useless this council is. Or is it a question of please don’t ask us any questions because a) we don’t know the answer (ie incompetent ) or b) we know the answer but we’ve doing it wrong, again?!

  4. Jonny Exile December 3, 2015 at 6:47 am

    I was under the impression that Burraston is a qualified solicitor in which case one would have thought he would be fairly used to (and expect) robust questioning. After all, how’s he going to cope if he has to appear in court on behalf of taxpayers if a few questions from a pensioner in a closed meeting are too much for him?

    I’m sure it’s one of those occasions when a ‘dry your eyes princess’ kind of approach would have been far better for all parties rather than indulging Burrsaston with an expensive grievance process.

  5. Aged ex councillor December 2, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Ever so helpful Chris!!!!!!!

  6. Pat Hicks December 2, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I am really disappointed with the councilors and officers… once again they are being divided . PLEASE. Try and work together for the sake of the islands. You are all individuals with your own standards . . Which is not a bad thing. But you need to have respect for others who may have different standards to yourself… we are all human and make mistakes. So please try and have compassion.. most of you are all pretty new to this and it will take years to build experiance. .. the officers need to treat all councilors with respect , as so the councilors.. please get on with the job in hand and put your personal dislikes to one side… I am getting sick of your bickering. .

  7. Chris Peat December 2, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen?