Council decides not to hold external review over bullying allegations

Sheringham Town Council held a special meeting last night to discuss bullying allegations and defamation payments.

Sheringham Town Council held a special meeting to discuss bullying allegations and defamation payments. - Credit: Sheringham Town Council

A town council has decided not to hold an external review into bullying allegations, during a special meeting called by six members of the electorate.

Sheringham Town Council announced during the meeting it had been consulting with an HR advisor to improve its workplace and draw up a new protocol, but felt it did not need to undergo an external review.

The meeting was called after six members of the public were dissatisfied with the lack of public participation.

Chairing the meeting, mayor Madeline Ashcroft said: "Opportunities to raise questions before and during [the previous] meeting were available, and the questions that were raised have all been addressed."

Vice chair of the council's employment committee, Sue Brisbane, addressed the allegations of bullying, saying: "We are keen to assure residents it is very important to members of STC that we be good employers and treat staff with dignity and respect."

Addressing a defamation claim made against STC in June last year, Ms Ashcroft said: "The council's accounts will reflect any expense incurred as a result of the claim and those are always available for people to come and examine."

Rita Lewis, a member of the public said a social media post claimed the cost of damages was £5,000 and asked the council if it could confirm this, how it was leaked and whether there were any implications for tax payers.

Mr Ratcliffe said a written response would be forthcoming due to the complexity of her question.

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The meeting concluded with councillors discussing an area of land on Morley Hill.

Mr Ratcliffe clarified the area was never owned by the council, despite the fact it was anticipated that it would be taken over by STC in July 2015.

In July 2019, current owners Norfolk Homes offered the land to the council, however at this time it became aware of concerns about the state of the land and unauthorised development works.

Mr Ratcliffe said residents nearby had experienced flooding as a result of the work.

STC contacted North Norfolk District Council planning and enforcement to oblige Norfolk Homes to submit an application for remediation of the site following unauthorised work, Mr Ratcliffe described the company's area management plan as "onerous, expensive and not workable".