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Councillors accused of bullying and harassment have gained power at Richmondshire DC....
Councillors accused of bullying and harassment have gained power at Richmondshire DC.

Last week the Independent Coalition for Richmondshire was ousted from power by a combination of Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Richmond Association of Independent Councillors, whose members had defected from the coalition.

But new leader John Blackie (Con) is among five councillors accused of bullying and harassing monitoring officer Margaret Barry in a report by consultant Richard Penn. Mr Penn had been called in by chief executive Harry Tabiner.

This followed a dispute between the five and Ms Barry over whether she acted properly in registering the coalition as a political group when it took power in November (LGC, 4 May).

The council last month called on the five, a mixture of Tories and Lib Dems, to publicly apologise to Ms Barry.

Resources committee vice-chair Stuart Parsons (Lib Dem), one of the five councillors who were accused, said: 'We all refused to meet Mr Penn until the Standards Board for England has finished with our cases, so how could we apologise over the findings of an unfinished report?'

Mr Blackie, who had a previous spell as leader, said: 'I had a good working relationship with Mr Tabiner and I see no reason to doubt that both he and I will act professionally.'

Staff were 'a little surprised' by the change of control, Mr Tabiner said, 'but we'll just have to carry on'.

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