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Councillor accused of bullying
11:00am Wednesday 30th October 2013 in News
THE LEADER of the Labour group on Basingstoke and Deane council has accused a fellow councillor of bullying – and said he has a “problem with women”.
Councillor Laura James made remarks about Cllr Stephen Marks at the end of the three-and-a-half hour long discussion about the future of Deeside care home.
Cllr Marks, chairman of the housing and environment overview and scrutiny committee, interrupted Cllr James when she was talking about a proposal to support keeping the care home open.
He claimed she was going off-topic by talking more generally about care issues.
Cllr James said: “You bully me most meetings and I think you have a problem with women.”
Cllr James added: “The reason I support it (the proposal) is because I have concerns about the alternatives. Can I have it on record that I felt harassed by the chair?”
Cllr Marks replied: “It will be webcast and it may well be that we talk about that tomorrow. We are not talking about other stuff. We will get a committee view on where we are with this (the plan to close Deeside).”
Tracey Cole, head of residents’ services at the borough council, said Cllr James’ request could not be put on record and that she would have to make an official complaint to take the matter further.
Speaking after the meeting, she told The Gazette: “There is a culture of bullying in the council, and it’s systemic.
“It’s hardly surprising that women are turned off by local politics and do not want to get involved when we have men bullying as Cllr Marks did. It is unacceptable.”
Asked if he bullied Cllr James or had a problem with women, Cllr Marks told The Gazette: “There’s no issue with that. People can see it. The meeting was webcast and recorded.”
He added he was disappointed that Cllr James had “politically hijacked” the debate when a proposal had been put forward.
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