'Like The Office' - Senior council officer criticised over crude awards do gags

Broadland District Council's headquarters at Thorpe Lodge in Norwich. Picture: Archant

A Broadland and South Norfolk council officer has been criticised over jokes - Credit: EDP © 2000

A senior council officer has been taken to task over jokes made during an awards do - including a lewd remark about staff member's breasts.

On Friday evening, Broadland and South Norfolk councils held an event in Norwich to celebrate the work of staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ceremony was compered by Emma Hodds, head of staff for both councils, and attended by around 400 people, including staff members, some senior councillors and stakeholders.

But after footage of the event was shared privately on the council's YouTube channel, the council faced a number of complaints over comments made by Ms Hodds during her hosting duties.

These included suggesting an officer removing his jacket was performing a striptease and commenting that another staff member "had her puppies out" - referring to her breasts.


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And Ms Hodds, who is also a monitoring officer for both councils, also joked that no more councillors should resign to "give us a break from these flipping elections".

Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Broadland, added: "It is a shame that an event to celebrate some of the fantastic work and dedication of our staff through the pandemic was overshadowed by this.

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"It would not have looked out of place as a scene in The Office. The language used was wholly inappropriate."

A councillor who anonymously alerted this newspaper to the footage, described the jokes as "unacceptable", adding: "It is not the kind of behaviour we would expect from somebody in a senior role, whose job it is to hold our conduct to account."

Natasha Harpley, Labour councillor for the Sprowston Central on Broadland District Council. Picture:

Natasha Harpley, Labour councillor for the Sprowston Central on Broadland District Council. Picture: Bethany Whymark - Credit: Archant

Tash Harpley, Labour councillor for Broadland in Sprowston, said: "It is upsetting that women always seem to be the subject of this kind of joke and locker room talk.

"This was also a senior officer making jokes at the expense of officers her junior, so does not set a good example at all."

Liberal Democrat councillor Dan Roper, who has objected to the removal of 333 trees in Stratton Strawless

Dan Roper, Lib Dem group leader on Broadland Council - Credit: Dan Roper

But in response to the complaints, a spokesman for the two councils said: "Individuals and teams received awards for their incredible achievements, including their work, on the front line, in the fight against Covid-19.This work included protecting our most vulnerable residents.

"The non-public event was attended by 400 members of staff and was a huge success."

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