Agenda item

CASE NO 2012/001

To consider a report of the Director of Policy and Resources (Monitoring Officer) regarding a matter referred by the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee for local determination.

(Please also see Part ll Agenda Item No 6)

Minutes:

The Chairman of the Sub-Committee made introductions and outlined the procedure which was to be followed.

 

The Investigating Officer summarised the details of the case. A complaint had been received about Councillor Frank McCall of Grange-over-Sands Town Council who was alleged to have breached the Grange-over-Sands Town Council Members’ Code of Conduct (“ the Code”) in the manner in which he had treated others, Members and staff, in particular with regard to failing to treat them with respect, intimidating behaviour, bullying and conduct likely to bring the Council into disrepute, contrary to paragraphs 3(1), 3(2) and 5 of the Code. The Complainant was Mrs Viv Tunnadine Town Clerk but the complaint was made on behalf of the Town Council.

 

Specific instances of intimidation and aggression were alleged to have taken place on various dates as follows:

 

(1)  That on 9 May 2011 during the official opening of Clare House Lane Bridge Councillor McCall was present and expressed his concern to the Mayor, Councillor Harvey, regarding the safety of the bridge. Councillor Harvey assured him that the bridge railings were safe. Councillor McCall was vociferous that Councillor Harvey should stop the opening and after he was told that he was not going to stop the opening, Councillor McCall started to stamp around, swore and threatened to call the press. He shouted to Ms. Jagger (who was Deputy Town Clerk at all material times) that he was resigning.

 

(2)  That on 16 June 2011 during a conversation, in which he requested a copy of theModel NALC Standing Orders, he was rude to Ms. Jagger.

 

(3)  That during a conversation on 12 September 2011with Councillor Harvey, regarding the Town Council's approach towards the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Councillor McCall swore at Councillor Harvey and spoke loudly and was aggressive towards him.

 

(4)  That on 12 October 2011 after a meeting of Town Councillors, Ms Jagger and an officer from South Lakeland District Council concerning the options available for future maintenance of the public conveniences in Grange-over-Sands, Councillor McCall became increasingly cross and agitated and shouted at those present regarding the status of the group of Town Councillors and banged the table with his fist and gesticulated.

 

(5)  That on 13 October 2011,during a telephone conversation with Ms Jagger, Councillor McCall stated that the manner in which the Town Council acted in terms of providing papers to the public at Town Council meetings was unacceptable and illegal.  He was angry and shouted at Ms Jagger telling her that she must sort things out. He then sent an email to the Town Council and the other Town Councillors stating that it was wrong for the Council to ask staff to take on additional tasks until outstanding problems were resolved.

 

(6)  On 19 October 2011 Councillor McCall e-mailed the Town Council and Town Councillors effectively criticising a note sent out by Ms Jagger of the meeting with the South Lakeland District Council officer on 12 October.

 

(7)  On 13 December 2011 Ms Jagger was sitting at her desk and Councillor McCall put his ideas about placing a receipt request for e mails to Town Councillors and monitoring them. Ms Jagger did not immediately accept his idea. He shouted at her and his bearing and demeanour towards her was an invasion of her personal space.

 

The Investigating Officer advised Committee Members that his report concluded the following:

 

-       That there had been failure by Councillor McCall to comply with paragraph 3(1) of the Code in that, on 16 June, 12 September, 12 & 13 October, and 13 December 2011, he did fail to treat others, namely Councillor Harvey and Ms Jagger, with respect.

 

-       That there had been failure by Councillor McCall to comply with paragraph 3(2) of the Code in that, on 16 June, 12 October and 13 December 2011, his conduct towards Alix Jagger constituted bullying.

 

-       That there had been no failure by Councillor McCall to comply with paragraph 5 of the Code in that, between 16 June and 13 December 2011, he did not conduct himself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or authority into disrepute.

 

Councillor McCall was invited to present his case, he read from a previously prepared statement (copy on file), in which he acknowledged that his behaviour and manner had on occasion been inappropriate, and offered assurances regarding his future conduct.

 

In relation to the incident of 9 May 2011 The Investigating Officer confirmed that he was no longer of the view that there had been a breach of the Code in relation to this part of the complaint. The Sub-Committee therefore found it unnecessary to make any findings of fact in relation to this element of the complaint save that Councillor McCall had not assumed the office of Councillor at that time and therefore the Code was not engaged in relation to the issues of his attendance at the opening of Clare House Lane Bridge.

Supporting documents: