'A majority of one does not open the floodgates', says Labour Group acting leader
Coun Sanderson became leader of the local authority and the Northumberland Conservative Group after previous leader Coun Peter Jackson was removed following a vote of no confidence in September 2020.
Following the results of the election on May 6, where the Tories went up from 33 seats in 2017 to 34 and it now has overall control of the council, he said it is important to now have a period of political consensus at County Hall following “some unpleasantness” in the run-up to the election.
In response to these comments, Northumberland Labour Group acting leader Coun Scott Dickinson said: “We welcome unity where unity is called for and where respect is earned and deserved.
“The election does not change the fact that the Labour Group has always said Coun Sanderson was on probation in his role as leader of the council after the vote of no confidence in his predecessor.
“He has had the opportunity since September to deal with members running havoc and allegations of bullying against staff, of which there are many.
“To date, nobody has seen any firm leadership on this. If he plans to allow this behaviour to continue, then it will continue to be called out. Staff at all levels of the council report this behaviour and have raised it.
“Councillors are not above what's expected in the way of appropriate treatment of hard-working staff. Their behaviour towards any staff member who has called out issues, highlighted inappropriate behaviour or alleged abuse of public office haven't been protected. They've been targeted.
“Until that behaviour is corrected, unity will be difficult.
“The Labour Group will always work in the interests of the public and staff in Northumberland, which includes calling out wrong-doing.
“Having a majority of one does not open the floodgates for repeat behaviours or continuation of past behaviour.
“What Labour would say is put your money where your mouth is Coun Sanderson. An election is the chance to draw a line under some appalling behaviour and to say ‘this is not the way we want to lead the council’.
“Once we see you mean what you say, then we'll talk about unity.”