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25th Jun, 2022

Locked out and cut off over row at council

Malvern Editorial 8th Oct, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A DISTRICT councillor has claimed he has been unfairly banned from entering council buildings making it nearly impossible for him to contact residents in his ward.

Coun Clive Smith from the Democratic group said he currently had no access to his own phone or internet and now must gain consent before entering council buildings or even attending council meetings.

His official Malvern Hills District Council e-mail account has also been frozen.

The sanctions are in place until the local elections next May and have been imposed by Chris Bocock, chief executive of the council, to restrict Coun Smith’s access to officers following an alleged incident more than two months ago.

It occurred before the July 23 meeting of Full Council when the Link ward member said he told a junior officer he was lodging an official complaint over the way his proposed question to the leader had been denied.

Coun Smith said after the meeting Mr Bocock ‘launched a tirade’ at him and within days he was sent a letter outlining the sanctions, which also made reference to previous misdemeanours.

“It has made my function as a district councillor very, very difficult, almost impossible,” he said. “It has cut me off from the modern world so to speak.

“The atmosphere at the council has turned poisonous, it’s a disgrace.”

Coun Smith has also been accused of using council phones for personal use and sneaking into a council building behind a wedding party, although he maintains he was an invited guest at the ceremony.

Coun Julian Roskams, leader of the Democratic group, said both he and Coun Smith apologised to the officer and thought that was the end of the matter.

He added after learning about the sanctions he had since tried to discuss the matter with Mr Bocock privately to alleviate the situation, but claimed the chief executive had repeatedly refused to talk about it or elaborate on past incidents referred to in the letter.

Coun Roskams said: “It is outrageous. Mr Bocock has not even received an official complaint and has taken action on previous incidents but won’t say what they are.

“He has failed to follow the process laid down by the council for dealing with issues of this kind and has taken it upon himself to act as judge, jury and executioner showing complete contempt for due process.”

In response Mr Bocock said: “It is highly regrettable that Coun Roskams has chosen to make this matter public in the way he has.

“By doing so he continues to display a complete disregard for the feelings and welfare of staff who have been adversely affected by the behaviour of Coun Smith.

“Consequently it would be entirely inappropriate to comment further.”

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