Suspended senior Bingham councillors expelled from Conservative Party having harassed their town clerk
Senior Conservative councillors who continued to 'act with impunity' after being found guilty of harassing a town clerk have been expelled from the party.
Bingham town councillors John Stockwood and Francis Purdue-Horan have been expelled from the Tory Party following a hearing. It means they can no longer represent themselves as Conservatives.
Messrs Stockwood and Purdue-Horan have been under fire for several years and more so recently after they were found to have harassed and created an oppressive work environment for their clerk Sharon Pyke, with the aim of removing her from office. She has since resigned.
It was just over a week ago when both councillors were attacked by their Rushcliffe Borough Council colleagues at full council, who decided an improvement panel was needed on Bingham Town Council.
Blue turned on blue during the full meeting, where a succession of members decided there was a threat to democracy should the town council be allowed to continue to operate unchecked.
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," said Liberal Democrat Rod Jones. "No council is perfect but I strongly criticise this council for its massive ongoing failures.
"Having heard the allegations, it is clear the town council needs a serious reset. It is clear the findings of the standards committee have not been implemented (apology in writing to town clerk).
"It makes me wonder whether wholesale resignations are in order because it is in Bingham's interest that a new wave of vigorously community-minded residents stand for election and refresh the town council."
The full council had before it a petition signed by 10% of Bingham's electorate which called for the dissolution of the town council, and for Rushcliffe to take on governance of the town — something which has never happened nationally.
While the borough's legal advice was that it could not legally take such a step under the Local Government Act 2007, the Conservative leader of the borough council Simon Robinson brought forward a recommendation that his authority impose an improvement board at the Tory-led Bingham Town Council — similar to the action taken by central government on Nottingham City Council.
Labour councillor Mike Gaunt said Bingham was an example of a lower tier authority at its worst.
"An elite clique of small-minded individuals have been accused of bullying public servants and repeatedly carrying out important decisions behind closed doors," he said.
"They have acted with impunity and disrespect for the community and residents they are meant to represent."
The improvement board was unanimously approved by the full council, which will meet again in December to discuss its progress.
Another recommendation for both members following the investigation into allegations of bullying was to reflect on their appropriateness to be members of the town council's overarching human resources committee. However, Messrs Stockwood and Purdue-Horan both put themselves forward for the chairman and vice-chairman roles. Mr Stockwood is now the chairman and Mr Purdue-Horan his deputy.
Both councillors are still elected representatives of Bingham Town Council but they will have to continue as independents.
They have been approached for comment.
Stuart Wallace, chairman of the Newark Conservative Association, refused to comment.