‘Bullying’ claims hit Louth Town Council

Councillor Laura Stephenson and Councillor David Wing.
Councillor Laura Stephenson and Councillor David Wing.

Accusations of bullying have been made against members of Louth Town Council following an outburst during a heated debate last week.

At a meeting of Louth Town Council (LTC) on Tuesday July 15, members of the public and some councillors were “shocked” at an outburst from Coun David Wing towards Coun Laura Stephenson, in which he shouted “shut up” following an interruption.

At least one member of the public who attended the meeting has submitted a formal complaint to East Lindsey District Council’s monitoring officer Eleanor Hoggart.

In the complaint, Coun Wing was criticised for the outburst and Mayor Coun Leonard was criticised for his handling of the aftermath.

Coun Leonard chose to give no comment at this stage.

Coun Laura Stephenson has said that she has no hard feelings towards any individual councillors, but said that such behaviour brings the council into disrepute and added: “We are not in a playground.”

Fellow councillor Neil Ward said that he had suffered bullying about a physical disability by fellow councillors in the past, which had led him to leave the town council in 2002 after a five-year stint.

Coun Ward said: “When passion runs into personal abuse, that is not conducive to a good town council.

“I have been subjected to bullying in the past, and it has been hurtful.”

Speaking to the Leader following last Tuesday’s meeting, Coun Wing said: “Coun Stephenson held the floor for 15 minutes and insulted the Chair on an issue that she knew nothing about, as she had not attended the previous meeting.

“When I disagreed, she muttered. She interrupted me and wanted the floor again after her 15 minutes, and it’s not the first time she’s done it.

“She then went into the giggles, which is very childish behaviour. It’s out of order.”

Monitoring officers look at complaints made against councillors where matters of conduct are concerned.

LTC’s code of conduct explicitly states that members should behave in a respectful manner, and a non-bullying or intimidatory manner.

After considering a formal complaint, the monitoring officer may choose whether to take formal action, informal action, or no action.

Eleanor Hoggart confirmed that the situation is currently in “the early stages of the procedure”, but added that it is “unlikely” that no action would be taken.