Councillor claims Lyme Regis Town Council has 'failed'

Councillor claims Lyme Regis Town Council has 'failed'

Lyme Regis town councillor Terry O'Grady

The Guildhall in Lyme Regis, where town council meetings usually take place. Picture John Gurd

First published in News by , Reporter

A COUNCILLOR has hit out at Lyme Regis Town Council for 'failing to protect an officer from verbal abuse' during chaotic scenes at a meeting last year.

Last week a report revealed that former town councillor Daryl Turner and town councillor Terry O'Grady had breached the town council code of conduct for their behaviour at a council meeting back on October 9 last year.

Complaints were also made against Cllr Mark Gage for his behaviour towards Cllr Turner, but the report found him not in breach of the code of conduct.

Members of the public were left open mouthed following a clash between Cllr Daryl Turner and the council's administration officer Adrianne Mullins in the early stages of the meeting, and then after an angry confrontation when Cllr Rikey Austin was forced to step in and try and calm Cllr Terry O'Grady as he swore and shouted at Cllr Turner.

Cllr Turner, who was also cleared of a seperate code of conduct breach, has since resigned his seat on the town council but remains a West Dorset District Councillor.

Town councillors considered the WDDC report and whether any further sanctions should be applied at a full council meeting on June 25.

In a statement, Cllr O'Grady said the whole experience was a 'very long and stressful time' but apologised to councillors for his previous behaviour.

However, he added: “We failed to protect an officer of this council from being verbally abused in the workplace.

“Any member that speaks to staff like that should be severely reprimanded.

“I will always defend members of this council and if that gets me into trouble then so be it.”

Town clerk John Wright told members there was a 'general feeling to move on' from the issue.

He added that the voluntary code of conduct for councillors was only introduced in February this year, and that therefore it would be 'unreasonable to judge anybody on a code that was not in existence at that time.'

Cllr Owen Lovell described the October meeting as a 'sad sorry date' in the history of the town council.

He added: “But two wrongs don't make a right; the meeting chairman, Cllr Sally Holman, could have stopped this and that is key.”

Cllr Cheryl Reynolds said she was in the public gallery at the meeting back in October and that statements by councillors in the WDDC report were 'not accurate' and 'more like the chapters of a Harry Potter book'.

After a tied vote with six votes for and against, Cllr Sally Holman's casting vote concluded that the WDDC report brought the matter to a close, and no further action was required by the town council.

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