Former mayor says staff have been bullied at Woodbridge Town Council
Accusations of bullying have been levelled at a Suffolk town council by one of its former mayors.
The allegations of bullying were made on Tuesday night at a full council meeting of Woodbridge Town Council.
Councillor for the Seckford ward Josh Sayles served as the town’s mayor between 2015 and 2016.
Mr Sayle alleged during this week’s meeting that in his time on the council two female clerks had been bullied by two male members of the council.
The accusation came as the council was set to vote upon a new harassment and bullying policy which would cover both staff and councillors.
The seven page policy aims to ensure that “all staff are treated with dignity and respect” and outlines a range of treatment which the council considers to constitute bullying or harassment including derogatory remarks, threats and inappropriate behaviour.
It sets out both formal and informal steps that can be taken and the support that can be offered by the council to deal with the issue should it arise.
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The policy also invites staff to “comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved by contacting the Town Clerk.”
“We are right to have this policy,” said Mr Sayles, “but it is a dark day for this council.
“Our staff serve this town and these people who have bullied the staff should be appalled.”
Other members of the council agreed with Mr Sayle’s sentiment.
Fellow Seckford ward councillor Lady Caroline Blois said: “I think that it’s appalling that we have to have this.”
Riverside ward councillor Kay Yule added that councillors “are not showing common sense”.
Martin Sylvester, who also represents the Riverside ward said: “It’s unfortunate that we have got to the point where we need the policy.”
Geoff Holdcroft, who represents the Riverside ward and is also a district councillor for the town said: “I think we need this policy.”
Lady Blois did have some reservations about the policy’s potential effectiveness:.
“What is the point of having a policy that has no teeth whatsoever,” said Lady Blois.
Despite these concerns and following discussions on the subject councillors decided to adopt the new policy.