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RICHMONDSHIRE UNDER FIRE IN BULLYING ROW

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Richmondshire DC is facing fresh calls to discipline five councillors who have refused to apologise or undergo 'dig...
Richmondshire DC is facing fresh calls to discipline five councillors who have refused to apologise or undergo 'dignity training' following bullying allegations.

Monitoring officer Margaret Barry took out a grievance against two Conservatives and three Liberal Democrats, including leader John Blackie (Con), over claims she improperly accredited the Independent Coalition for Richmondshire as the ruling group last year.

Chief executive Harry Tabiner commissioned a report from consultant Richard Penn, which urged the five to apologise (LGC, 11 May).

But they refused because they were awaiting rulings by the Standards Board for England, which exonerated them last summer. The independents meanwhile lost power to the Tories and Lib Dems.

Richmondshire now fears legal action by Ms Barry, who has been absent on sick leave for several weeks.

The Independent Coalition has tabled a motion that the council, 'deplores the fact that the members named in the Penn report have not apologised, provided appropriate reassurance or undergone

dignity at work training', and that 'their failure to apologise could have serious financial consequences for this council'.

Local Government Association Lib Dem group leader Richard Kemp has written to Mr Tabiner saying it is 'perverse that the unofficial Penn report is being used when it has clearly been discredited by the [Standards] Board'.

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