Sudbury councillor ordered to make apology over ‘disrespectful’ remarks despite denying rude claims

Babergh councillor Simon Barrett. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Babergh councillor Simon Barrett. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A Sudbury councillor who has been ordered to apologise after allegedly being disrespectful to a council officer has described the investigation as “laughable” and a “total storm in a teacup”.

Simon Barrett, Babergh district councillor for the Sudbury south ward had been the subject of a complaint following an event in the town in October, and on Monday Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils’ joint audit and standards committee was told he had been found to have breached the code of conduct.

Mr Barrett was found to have behaved in a way that “could be seen as failing to treat others with respect and bullying”.

But Mr Barrett disputed claims that he had been disrespectful.

“The whole process for me is laughable to be perfectly honest, and there are a lot of people there who I have spoken to who said it is a total waste of time,” he said.

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“I have been [a councillor] for a long time and I am not rude to officers. I would be critical maybe of actions but not rude to them.”

The incident happened on October 12 last year at a Vision for Sudbury event which aimed to outline plans for the town over the next 20 years.

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Mr Barrett described the meeting as “extremely poor” and claims that he spoke to an officer asking who was responsible because the event was “rubbish”.

He disputes that he had been rude to the officer, who lodged a complaint that he had been disrespectful.

Having received the complaint, the council agreed there was a “high likelihood” the council’s code of conduct had been breached, leading to an external independent investigator to be called, as required by the council’s process.

Following Monday’s audit and standards committee where the outcome was announced, a spokesman from the council said: “The outcome of the investigation was that the code had been breached as the councillor had acted in a way that could be seen as failing to treat others with respect and bullying.

“The recommendation, due to the relatively low severity of the behaviour described, was through local resolution by way of an apology and training with the monitoring officer.

“This training will be around ensuring that councillor Barrett fully understands the expected behaviour of councillors in accordance with the code of conduct and the council’s constitution.”

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