William Eichler 19 February 2020

Union accuses town council of being like ‘The Godfather’

Union accuses town council of being like ‘The Godfather’ image

There is a ‘systematic and sustained campaign of bullying’ in the Norfolk town council of Attleborough, according to the union Unite.

Unite has accused a number of town councillors of waging a vendetta against employees of the historic market town’s council.

Unite regional officer Miles Hubbard has written to council chair Cllr Tony Crouch insisting that he act ‘immediately’ to address the situation.

Mr Hubbard wrote that Unite members ‘have described a systematic and sustained campaign of bullying and harassment of council staff, including persistent insulting and libellous postings on social media, belittling outbursts in public meetings and face to face verbal attacks (including foul language) on staff whilst carrying out their council duties.

‘The council is obliged to fulfil a duty of care towards all of its employees, and it seems that it is failing in this regard.’

Unite’s intervention came after a town council meeting on Monday called to discuss the issue descended into chaos with the police being called.

The meeting, which was attended by 50 people, was called to discuss a proposal to remove two of its elected members - Taila Taylor and Edward Tyrer - from positions within the council.

However, members of the public refused to leave what was supposed to be a private discussion involving confidential information.

The police were called and the building was eventually evacuated as a safety precaution after somebody reportedly smelt burning.

Mr Hubbard insisted there was an ‘unprovoked vendetta’ by a small minority of councillors directed at Unite members.

‘This is a disgrace to the ethos of local government, reinforced by last night’s chaotic scenes at the town council by supporters of the offending councillors, which resulted in the police being called,’ he said.

‘If action is not immediately taken by the town council to stop these attacks on our members, Unite will have no hesitation in holding an industrial ballot by our members with the option for strike action.

‘Behind its Miss Marple image, picture postcard Attleborough is more like a scene from The Godfather,’ he added.

Attleborough Town Council said eight members have put forward a motion to remove two of their members from serving on committees because of severe bullying of staff and fellow councillors.

Cllr Tony Crouch, mayor of Attleborough, said: 'It is quite astonishing in 2020 and, on a week when a high profile celebrity has taken her own life which is linked with online bullying, there are people who turned out to support two bullies.

'Myself and many of my fellow councillors have been appalled at the unacceptable behaviour which has gone on and did our best to put a stop to it only to be abused and threatened ourselves.'

One year on, councils will be central to recovery image

One year on, councils will be central to recovery

After an extraordinary year, council staff are exhausted, worn down and facing further cuts, says Heather Jameson. But she has no doubt they will continue to rise to the challenge 'whether it is in an office, at home or on a laptop anywhere'.
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