Councillors resign amid bullying claims

Wooler Parish Council has been hit by the resignation of four parish councillors amid claims of bullying and intimidation.

Chairman Malcolm Pringle and Rachel Sinton quit at last week’s meeting, while Catherine Dunn and Shirley Mills have followed suit.

Mr Pringle, in his resignation letter, stated: ‘A parish council is required by law to operate as a democratic collective body, with its councillors abiding by clear principles of good conduct with an emphasis on treating others with respect. I am saddened to say that my experiences have not been wholly happy or positive and most recently have been very frustrating.

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‘In my view bullying and intimidating treatment of some of my fellow councillors by a small group of councillors has no place in a healthy, functioning parish council. Neither should there be a place for unjustifiable attacks about personal integrity and judgement or disrespectful comments about a local organisation.’

‘At the end of the last parish council meeting, in my view, there was a situation when the principles of acting impartially and acting in the public interest were grossly disregarded. This was hugely disappointing.

‘It is my view that such behaviours do not bode well for working in true partnership with other key local organisations, neither are they likely to instill confidence amongst the public regarding the parish council’s ability to act impartially and fairly and about being open and transparent in their actions and decisions.’

Ms Sinton, in her letter of resignation, wrote of ‘an atmosphere of bullying which is uncomfortable to witness and very unpleasant to be the target of’.

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She also wrote of a ‘pervading negativity which seems to hold sway with any new ideas which come from outside bodies’.

Remaining parish councillors were due to meet last night to discuss how to proceed, with the next monthly meeting scheduled for Monday, September 24.

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