Councillors brand bullying claims as ‘poppycock’ and ‘pure fiction’
- Credit: Archant
Two councillors have branded claims that they have been bullying colleagues as “poppycock” and “pure fiction”.
At a meeting of Brandon Town Council, on Monday, November 9, chairman Phil Wittam was called to stand down for his “disrespectful” behaviour towards members of the public and councillors.
Following the meeting, fellow councillor Penny Etherington, accused him and councillor Victor Lukaniuk of bullying and said they had created a “toxic atmosphere” at the council.
Ms Etherington said: “On Monday night Mr Wittam was totally disrespectful and I have never experienced a council meeting like that.
“I think at the very least Phil should resign as chairman and quite frankly the behaviour of him and Mr Lukaniuk, I think they have done a huge disservice and they have shown they are not fit to be town councillors.
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“Their bullying attitude is appalling.”
A complaint about Mr Wittam’s behaviour at the most recent council meeting has been lodged with West Suffolk Council, where he is also a district councillor.
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A West Suffolk spokesman said: “We will consider it in line with our procedures.”
But Mr Wittam said on Monday he just “said it how it is” after he felt he was attacked on an issue that he had nothing to do with.
Although he confirmed it was council clerk, Graham Cock, who signed the contract costing £15,000 back in 2019, with no authorisation, Mr Wittam said this happened under Ms Etherington’s watch as chairman.
He said: “They were attacking me but I felt that it was misplaced. Why should I take the flack when it was under Penny Etherington’s watch when this happened?
“I am not stepping down. I have done nothing wrong. I have done my best to save this council.”
Mr Cock did not want to comment.
In response to Ms Etherington’s bullying claims, Mr Wittam said: “It is absolute poppycock. I refute it totally - we are not bullies at all.”
Mr Lukaniuk said: “Unless somebody can come up with some evidence, it’s pure fiction. I have never bullied anyone on the council.”
Brandon Town Council vice chairman, Sam Skinner, agreed that councillor Wittam’s attitude “needs to change” and said if not, he should stand down.
Mr Skinner said: “I’m disgusted at the behaviour of the chairman and I was embarrassed to be a councillor on Monday night.
“It can’t carry on like this.”