Power: No decision on response to bullying

Rachel Power.

THE Derwent Valley Council has made no formal decisions on its response to alleged bullying and intimidation at last week’s annual general meeting, Councillor Rachel Power said today.

Responding to the New Norfolk News’ request for information about what decision the council had made in its closed meeting after the AGM last Thursday night, Cr Power today said no formal decisions had been made.

Cr Power, deputy mayor Jessica Cosgrove and mayor Ben Shaw have made a number of comments on social media about what they described as bullying, particularly during the annual general meeting.

In video posted on Facebook on Friday, Cr Power said councillors, staff and members of the public had been bullied and intimidated during the AGM and the monthly meeting that followed it. She said five people in the public gallery had caused an uproar and about 20 people had encouraged them.

Cr Cosgrove said some of the behaviour in the public gallery was “disgusting”, while Cr Shaw said he would be asking for “stronger powers when dealing with unruly people at meetings.”

In her video, Cr Power said the council had discussed the issue as a group and would not be tolerating such behaviour. Endorsing Cr Power’s video statement, Cr Shaw said he would be introducing new “house rules” in January.

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Cr Power said today: “The issue was discussed and there was consensus around the issue. No formal decisions were made. Mayor Ben Shaw gave me permission to ‘speak freely’ on the matter.

In Facebook posts and in readers’ comments to the New Norfolk News, several people have challenged the councillors’ description of the meeting. Businesswoman Marita Rose said on Facebook: “I didn’t witness bullying, I witnessed passionate disenchanted members of the valley, wanting answers and they often didn’t get answers.”

Former councillor and former council worker Chris Lester said in a comment to the New Norfolk News: “I was at the meeting and besides a lot of passion and some language I didn’t think it was that bad”, while businessman and former councillor Wayne Shoobridge said he was he was at the AGM and while there were some “upset and frustrated residents in attendance”, he said “the accusations made by two of our councillors are just not true.”

LISTEN FOR YOURSELF:
Council audio recording of the annual general meeting (sometime this morning (December 18), the council changed the link to the audio recording without explanation. The link here has now been updated).

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