Stradbroke councillor found to have breached Suffolk Local Code of Conduct

Stradbroke councillor James Hargrave

Stradbroke councillor James Hargrave

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Stradbroke Parish Council chairman Nick Stones says he simply wants to get on with running the council after one of its councillors was found to have breached the Suffolk Local Code of Conduct.

James Hargrave, elected to the council in 2011, was found to have breached the code last month. It followed a complaint from parish clerk Carol Smy to Mr Stones last summer, for ‘bullying behaviour’.

Mr Stones said: “Both Carol and I are pleased that it is over and now we just want to get on with running the village.

“He has apologised to Carol, Carol has accepted. As far as I am concerned that is the end of the matter.”

Mr Stones, who criticized the amount of time it took Mid Suffolk District Council to deal with the complaint, said it would be “up to the people” to decide whether Mr Hargrave should continue on the council, with local elections taking place this year.

A statement from Mid Suffolk District Council read: “Following a meeting of the Suffolk Joint Standards Board held on March 20, 2015 it was found that Mr Hargrave breached the Suffolk Local Code of Conduct for Members (‘Code of Conduct’) by not treating others with respect and possibly bullying. As a result Mr Hargrave will formally apologise to the clerk and this will be recorded in the Stradbroke Parish Council Minutes.”

Mr Hargrave told the Diss Express: “I have apologised to the clerk about the incident.

“As councillors we all have a duty of care to our employees and I should have treated her with more respect and not involved her into an argument that was between councillors.

“The clerk has pointed out in an email to me that I ‘was not solely at fault here’ and I have again apologised for my part in this. I now have a good constructive working relationship with the clerk, and have had ever since.”

He added he feels a section of councillors want him off the council, with a further seven complaints against him being rejected by Mid Suffolk District Council.

“This has created a toxic atmosphere at the council,” he said. “I believe that these councillors want me removed from the Parish Council as we have different views on several key issues in Stradbroke.

“I strongly opposed building a Co-op store opposite the primary school on road safety grounds and am also highly concerned about the impact on our village of the proposed development of 54 houses at Grove Farm. In speaking out on these issues I am representing the views of a good number of Stradbroke residents.”