Blow for council as five members resign amid bullying culture claims

Jacqui Knights and John Flowerdew, two of the Costessey Town Council members who have resigned

Jacqui Knights and John Flowerdew, two of the Costessey Town Council members who have resigned - Credit: Sophie Wylie

A town council has been dealt a pre-Christmas blow after five of its members resigned amid allegations of a bullying culture.

Earlier this month, John Flowerdew, Chris Mahn, Jacqui Knights, Fiona Carter and Sheila Long all tendered their resignations to Costessey Town Council.

Four of the councillors represent a single area, the Queen's Hills estate, while Mrs Long represented the Old Costessey ward.

The Costessey village sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Costessey village sign. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The Liberal Democrat-led council has now been left with five vacancies to fill after the quintet all stepped down.

In their individual letters of resignation, each member raised concerns about a perceived culture of bullying within the council.

However, council chairman Dan Burrill has vehemently denied this, saying the resignations had "come as a surprise".

He said: "Obviously, it was something of a surprise to see five councillors all decide to leave at this particular moment when we are all trying to fight a pandemic.

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"It is fair to say that we had some disagreements over the last 18 months which has affected the performance of the council.

"In my time on the council I have not experienced a culture of bullying and I also do not think moving forward that this would be a problem."

Mr Burrill added that should a by-election be held it would be tied in with the next set of local elections in May, but that should anybody wish to put themselves forward they should contact town clerk Hilary Elias.

But Mr Flowerdew, one of the Queen's Hills councillors, said the environment had reached a stage where the five could take no more.

He said: "Speaking solely for myself, I joined the council because I wanted to help bring about real change and represent the community of Queen's Hill. But everything any of us tried to do was met resistance."

He said the culture had a "real impact" on the other councillors' mental health.

"We all tried to do things a little differently but that just didn't seem to sit well," he said.

The resignations take the town council from having 19 members to 14, with the next full election set for May 2023.

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