Mayor of Blyth Coun Bob Parker stripped of role for bullying

The mayor of Blyth, Coun Bob Parker, has been asked to stand down after a two-year investigation into allegations of bullying

Former Mayor of Blyth, Councillor Robert Parker
The Mayor of Blyth, Councilor Robert Parker

A disgraced town mayor has been asked to stand down by fellow town council members for bullying the organisation’s clerk.

Coun Bob Parker, the mayor of Blyth in Northumberland, received the punishment after a two-year investigation, but has hit back and said the sanction was disproportionate.

The Labour representative was found to have told Sue Noddings to “obey his orders”, sent her an intimidating email and was confrontational and argumentative.

Following an investigation by Northumberland County Council’s standards committee, the town council’s own members chose to ban him from his post as mayor, as well as chairing all committee and sub-committee meetings for the next three years.

Coun Parker, of Ryal Close in Blyth, said the town council’s decision went far beyond what had been recommended by the county’s standards committee. He said: “‘The decision last night was, in my humble opinion, disproportionate, as it went beyond the recommendations of a very detailed, comprehensive and expensive report. I am obviously disappointed that the town council could reach such a perverse decision.

“I have sought to involve the Local Government Ombudsman before Christmas because I believe that an investigation shouldn’t take 23 months to conclude, and I want to be assured that the council has acted lawfully on all aspects of the investigation.”

The county council’s standards team had suggested a 12-month ban and that Coun Parker undergoes training, but members of the town council, including some in his own party, voted for tougher sanctions.

He will be stripped of his mayoralty until the end of this term of election in 2016 although will continue to represent his ward of Cowpen. His wife Margaret is also a town councillor for the same ward.

Ms Noddings, who has worked for the town council since 2009, said: “It’s been a long process but we have been through the proper process and decisions have been made legally.”

Coun Parker believes resolving the investigation will have cost Northumberland County Council around £20,000 in legal fees.

He said: “It’s my view the council made its decision last night not on the content of a report and process which has cost the tax payer over £20,000, but on personal preferences and pursuing personal agendas that have no place in public life.

“I will continue to serve the people of Blyth who elected me and I will continue to battle for my town. Others will have to answer for the decision made last night.”

During the extraordinary meeting of the council, five Labour councillors, two Liberal Democrats and one UKIP representative voted for the mayoral ban. Two Labour members chose not to vote.

In December Northumberland County Council’s standards committee found that Coun Parker ‘bullied Ms Noddings’ contrary to paragraph 3(2)(b) of the Blyth Town Council Members’ Code of Conduct.

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