Conservatives walk out of Scarborough Council meeting amid protest over alleged 'abusive' behaviour

Conservative councillors walked out of a Scarborough Council meeting in protest at the authority's safeguarding of its members.

By George Buksmann
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 3:49 pm
The Conservatives walked out of a council meeting in protest, which are currently held at Scarborough Spa to allow for social distancing.
The Conservatives walked out of a council meeting in protest, which are currently held at Scarborough Spa to allow for social distancing.

Cllr Derek Bastiman, the leader of the Conservative group on the council, told The Scarborough News the protest walk-out was arranged as the council "aren't taking seriously" alleged abusive and threatening behaviour made by a councillor.

The walk-out happened during a full council meeting at Scarborough Spa yesterday afternoon.

All 12 Conservative group councillors and independent councillor Bill Chatt left the meeting before proceedings had finished.

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The Conservatives, right, walked out of the meeting in protest. (Photo: Scarborough Borough Council YouTube)

In a statement, Cllr Bastiman said: "We took the decision to leave yesterday’s meeting of Scarborough Borough Council as a sign of protest that we have no confidence in Scarborough Borough Council’s commitment to safeguarding its members.

"Over the past five years several councillors, former councillors and council officers have been subject to a campaign of abuse, violent threats, and harassment by a serving SBC councillor."

The result of the walk-out meant that a discussion with the chairs of the council's two overview and scrutiny committees could not take place as Conservative councillors Guy Coulson and David Jeffels, who chair the two committees, had left.

During the meeting, Cllr Phillip Trumper said: "In light of the recent tragedy at Leigh-on-Sea [the killing of MP Sir David Amess] and threats against Angela Rayner [the Labour Party's deputy leader], along with other serious threats and abuse of elected members and officers at all levels of local government, can you reassure the members of this council that you acknowledge and take seriously the duty of care and safeguarding owed by SBC?"

Cllr Liz Colling, Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Growth, speaking in place of council leader Cllr Steve Siddons, who was not present, said: "Unreservedly, yes."

Cllr Trumper said: "We do not have confidence that this administration has taken this matter seriously. An online Zoom training session is too little too late for those that have suffered such threats and abuse."

During a reply from Cllr Colling the Conservative members left the council chamber in protest.

Addressing the walk-out, Cllr Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff said it was "an absolute disgrace" that the councillors had left, and that "they should be utterly ashamed of themselves".

Former Mayor Cllr Hazel Lynskey said: "In 20 years I have never experienced anything like this today ... we are here to make this borough a better borough, we are not here for ourselves and we don't take our bat home if we are not in charge."

Cllr Lynskey received a round of applause and a standing ovation from some councillors.