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