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Parish councillor accepts he intimidated colleague after investigation

A parish councillor says he now accepts the findings of an investigation that said he intimidated a colleague and acted in a way that brought his office and council into disrepute.

Cllr Patricia Marks, a member of Calverton Parish Council, raised a complaint against Cllr Paul Winfield, also a Calverton parish councillor, in February 2021.

Cllr Marks alleged Cllr Winfield had failed to treat her, her family and others with respect and that he had bullied and harassed her and others.

On June 14 Cllr Winfield received papers in relation to the complaint and two days later on June 16, while the complaint was in the initial assessment stage, he confronted Cllr Marks during a working group meeting of the parish council.

During this confrontation, it is alleged he made various comments calling her a “sad woman and swearing”.

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This was reported as a breach of the council’s code of conduct and formed part of the complaint.

Lincolnshire-based solicitors Wilkin Chapman undertook an investigation and Dave Hayward, the investigating officer, produced a final report in June 2022.

It concluded Cllr Winfield had breached the code of conduct in regards to the incident on June 16 only.

In an attempt to resolve the matter by way of a local resolution Cllr Winfield was asked to apologise to his colleague and attend training in relation to “civility and respect in office”.

The resolution offer was made on July 22, 2022, but Cllr Winfield rejected it on July 28.

This led to the matter being referred to a Gedling Borough Council hearing panel.

On November 10 it was determined there had been a breach of the Calverton Parish Council code of conduct on June 16, 2021, in that “he did intimidate a complainant and this conduct could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office or the parish council into disrepute”.

The decision was noted at a Gedling Borough Council Standards Committee meeting on December 15.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Winfield told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he would be remaining as a parish councillor and added: “I just accepted it and that was it.”

During the meeting on December 15 monitoring officer, Francesca Whyley noted the sanctions applied as a result.

She said: “The complaint was ultimately sent out to external investigators because it was considered potentially there might be a breach of the code which needed further investigation.

“During the course of the complaint on June 16, the subject member received the complaint papers and an incident then followed, when that subject member then attended…a working group meeting that was taking place at the time, and confronted the individual who had made the complaint against them.

“The decision that was taken by the hearing panel, who sat on November 10 of this year, was that they supported the findings that had been made by the independent investigators and they felt there had been a breach of the Calverton Parish Council code of conduct, specifically the breaches related to the paragraphs five and seven of the code.

“Paragraph five states you must not intimidate or attempt to intimidate any person who is, or likely to be, a complainant, and paragraph seven [says] you must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or your council into disrepute.

“Ultimately the sanction that was recommended to the parish was that the parish include the decision notice in their next full council meeting.”

No training was given as a sanction because Cllr Winfield had already taken part in two training events recently.

Committee chairman Councillor Michael Boyle (Lab) added: “I thought it was a very fair process, and not everyone was pleased with the outcome I’m sure, but I think it was done seriously and with due regard.

“I think it was a job well done.”

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