Councillor Probe Ruling

‘Councillor probe ruling

Derbyshire Times Published Date: 16 September 2009
A top councillor will face no further action against him after he was accused of bullying and making a council clerk’s working life a “nightmare”. Scarcliffe Parish Council had upheld clerk Sue Wilton’s claims that she was persistently bullied and threatened by parish councillor Malcolm Crane and banned him from talking to her. But a Standards Board for England investigation found there was a lack of corroborated evidence that could lead to a finding of bullying and no further action was necessary.

Cllr Crane, who is also a Bolsover district councillor, said: “I criticised how the parish council could justify finding me guilty at a grievance procedure without giving me the opportunity to provide a defence. “I was entitled to my defence to the Standards Board and they’re saying there is no evidence of harassment and bullying.”

Cllr Crane had been accused of bullying and harassing Mrs Wilton between July 2006 and November 2008 which she described as a “nightmare”. And, in March, the parish council banned him from contact with staff and removed him from committees, sub- committees and panels.

Standards Board watchdogs found evidence of a deteriorating working relationship, but stated: “While there was some anecdotal evidence from parish councillors that Cllr Crane could occasionally be aggressive and demanding, there was a lack of corroborated evidence relating to Cllr Crane’s treatment of the clerk that could lead to a finding that she had been bullied.”

The clerk also accused Cllr Crane of consistently failing to declare a personal and prejudicial interest and failing to withdraw from council meetings concerning Hillstown Community Centre and Hillstown Jubilee Club because he was chairman of both. Despite the board recognising Cllr Crane did not consistently declare these interests, it felt procedure was confused and these breaches were not very serious and no further action was necessary beyond training. The parish council and Mrs Wilton were unavailable for comment.’

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