Thursday 09th December 2021,
North Yorks Enquirer

Party Politics 1:0 Safeguarding (HT)

Party Politics 1:0 Safeguarding (HT)

  • an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, in the form of an Open Letter to Mr Mike GREENE, who is the Head of Paid Service (CEO) at Scarborough Borough Council, inviting him to urge the Leader to address the current Safeguarding crisis.

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Mr Mike GREENE – Head of Paid Service (CEO) – Scarborough Borough Council

Cc: Robert GOODWILL MP (Scarborough & Whitby)

Cc: Kevin HOLLINRAKE MP (Filey & Malton)

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Mike,

Once again I am obliged to address you in the public domain, in direct consequence of your insistence on subjecting my correspondence to your unlawful policy of intercepting/deleting my communications. Scarborough Borough Council is NOT an “interception authority” and stands, therefore, in breach of legislation.

It is incredible that you practice the interception of emails on the grounds that the Council’s Duty of Care to staff requires that they must be protected against an arrangement of pixels on a screen, yet offer no protection to staff or members against threats and harassment in the real world.

You will, I hope, discern that there is a massive proportionality issue here.

I wish to contest the statement that you directed to elected members on Wednesday 3rd November 2021 at 16:24 GMT.

I wish to contest your disregard of the mandatory NOLAN Principles of Public Life, to which you are bound to adhere. To remind you:

In my view, in respect of your contribution to the ferocious contention over the matter of the murder threats, you stand in breach of Article 1: you have not acted “solely in the public interest”;

You have acted in such a way as to appear to protect the interests of the incumbent Leadership at the risk of the health, wellbeing and lives of elected members and members of the public. The Leadership may have failed to give you adequate direction but that does not absolve you from the requirements of the NOLAN Principles.

In my view, you stand in breach of Article 3: you have not acted “impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias”;

You have acted on the advice of proven liars, in disregard of the best evidence, and with manifest discrimination and bias. You have not interviewed the victims, nor sought to discover whether or not there may be more, perhaps in the private sector. You have not arranged adequate Safeguarding procedures, as Councillor GOODBERRY has attested.

In my view, you stand in breach of Article 5: you have not acted “in an open and transparent manner”;

You have addressed your email to yourself, Cc:-ing your Monitoring Officer, but concealing from members the other recipients of your email by addressing them Bcc: (i.e. as ‘blind’ recipients). This is not “an open and transparent manner”. Councillors cannot know whether or not they have been singled out. Thus have you isolated them, each from the others. (And please explain why elected members’ contact details have been deleted from the Council website. How do you propose that their electors may contact them?).

In my view, you stand in breach of Article 6; you have not acted in such a way as to be “truthful”.

You have acted in such a way as to actively conceal the truth, which abounds in the form of witnessed, documented, recorded evidence, subject to interrogation.

In my view, you stand in breach of Article 7; you have not evinced “leadership”;

You have not “actively promote(d) and robustly support(ed) the principles and challenge(d) poor behaviour wherever it occurs”. You have witnessed terrifying conduct – and challenged none of it.

I direct you to lodge a Formal Corporate Complaint against yourself, the Head of Paid Service (CEO), Mr Mike GREENE, on the above grounds and others. I insist on a rigorusly diligent examination of ALL available evidence. I am willing and able to provide further evidence, as are others, at the request of the Investigating Officer(s) and, since I am unable to do so via the Council’s ITC system, I will be glad to ask the editor of the North Yorks Enquirer to make all such evidence available online, on request or otherwise.

In further clarification of my Formal Corporate Complaint, I now seek to assist the Investigating Officer(s) by deconstructing your deeply disingenuous email of Wednesday 3rd November 2021, interpolating my considered opinion by way of paragraph-by-paragraph commentary, indented and in red type between your text (in blue type):

From: Mike Greene <Mike.Greene@scarborough.gov.uk>
Date: 3 November 2021 at 16:24:11 GMT
To: Mike Greene <Mike.Greene@scarborough.gov.uk>
Cc: Lisa Dixon <Lisa.Dixon@scarborough.gov.uk>
Subject: Recent emails
Dear Councillors,
 
Once again there are various rumours and emails circulating that a member of this Council has made threats against persons, including councillors.
These so-called “rumours” are reiterations of the factual reports of first-hand witnesses (fellow victims), substantiated by documentary evidence as well as audio evidence already in the public domain. To characterise this evidence as “rumours” is disingenuous, indeed wittingly deceptive.
It has been suggested that we are not taking appropriate steps to deal with this and to protect our councillors.
It is self-evident that such steps as you may have taken (if any) have been woefully inadequate and ineffectual. Members are afraid to traverse the Council car park or answer their own doors. One member’s spouse has gone to stay with family, out of harms way. Your predecessor ‘locked down’ the Town Hall for 6 months (arguably, without statutory authority) to secure members’ safety, but you have done nothing to prevent members, Officers or members of the public entering the Spa, for the last several Full Council meetings, in possession (for all we may know) of concealed knives or other weapons of violent assault. Only last week, you sat immobile during a vitriolic and entirely inappropriate rant that, for all you knew, may have ended in violent injury or death – while the Mayor, to his lasting shame, can be heard to chuckle, in the background.
These are serious allegations and I want to assure you that we take the wellbeing, health, safety and security of all our publicly elected councillors very seriously.  We liaise with North Yorkshire Police to assess risk to councillors and our staff.  We report any evidence of criminal wrongdoing to the police, and encourage elected members to do the same given the fact the police are the appropriate body to deal with criminal conduct.
Councillors have indicated that they do not have confidence in your assurances that the Council – or the Leadership – has this situation under adequate control. Your own Officers may be at risk, and indeed have been. Did you, to protect your staff, report the matters referred to you within the rubric of violent conduct in the workplace to the Health & Safety Executive, which takes a strong line on such conduct?
A strong line, indeed – and one echoed by Councils throughout the land, as this Guardian report confirms:
Under the terms of the FOIA, I would like you provide me with a list, beginning on 1st January 2016, of all of the occasions on which the Council has reported these or related matters to the Police, the HSE or any other authority (please indicate which, and on what dates).
Please acknowledge this FOIA Request in the required manner. Thank you.
In terms of providing member support we carry out risk assessments and put mitigation measures in place, such as security at Council meetings.  We are reviewing support to members in light of the tragic death of David Amess MP and will be advising with members on this.
As stated above, attending last Monday’s meeting of Full Council, I observed (as did my illustrious companion), no evidence of security measures such as would prevent a deadly weapon being introduced clandestinely into the meeting. There was nothing to prevent a fatal attack like that on Sir David AMESS MP, or that on Jo COX MP. Consider, too, the aide of Nigel JONES MP [LibDem], who was stabbed to death defending his MP.
I would also draw your attention to the case of Allerdale Councillor Peter LITTLE, jailed for sending a threatening email to Allerdale Council CEO, Andrew SEEKINGS and Mark JENKISON MP [Con.] (Worthington). A man has been arrested for threatening to murder Rhonda Valley MP Chris BRYANT [Lab.]. Over the weekend, a man has been arrested in Cork for sending life-threatening emails to a UK MP.
The Leader of the Opposition (nationally), Sir Keir STARMER [Lab.] has called for Claudia WEBBE MP [Lab.] to resign following her conviction for harassment. The SBC Leader clearly takes an alternative view on harassment or worse.
Within my FOIA Request, please provide copies, in e-format, of all of the Council’s Risk Assessments in the wider context of the Safeguarding, safety and security of elected members, staff and members of the public. Thank you.
As I outlined previously these allegations relate to events which are alleged to have taken place three years ago.  These historical issues dating back over several years were referred to the police at the time and were also dealt with as part of our formal processes.  We are not aware of any current police investigations ongoing into any allegations of threats to harm any councillor and there is no current intelligence to indicate an immediate threat to any councillor.
Acts of manic outbursts, violences and threats of injury and death have formed part of the perpetrator’s conduct since, at latest, September 2016 and have recurred in Council, in public, in the workplace, in emails, letters, cards and social media, at irregular intervals since that time. Convictions have been secured. You are fully aware, as I demonstrated in a recent article, that serious threats were also issued and received during your own tenure as Head of Paid Service and, indeed, within the past twelve months.
According to members of every stripe, and the Council’s minutes, these matters were never set before the Standards Committee. Speaking of which, I learn that Councillors are now the subject of clearly retaliatory Formal Complaints by the perpetrator, simply for voicing their opinions, naming no-one. This is a blatant abuse of process and an unnecessary drain on the Council’s (i.e. the ratepayers’) resources.
If a councillor has evidence of threats, harassment or intimidation, they should share that with us, and the police, immediately so appropriate advice and assistance can be provided.
Councillors have provided evidence of threats and the assurance of sworn testimony to the Council and to the Police – all disregarded. Sharing it with you has served no purposeother than to inform you of the extent of evidence it would be necessary for the Council to ‘bury’. Thus, again your assurances are worthless.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind members of their obligations under the Members Code of Conduct including the Nolan Principles and advise that members should not be using the Council’s email system in a manner which breaches the Code.  I would therefore request that members desist from all email correspondence making speculations in ways which could be viewed as showing disrespect to fellow elected members .
As I have demonstrated, above, you are in no position to remind members, with credibility, to be mindful of the NOLAN Principles. I have explained how, in my view, you have flouted many of them.
 
Attempting to extinguish discourse between members is undemocratic and unforgiveable. You appear to be relying on the terms of a Report brought to Council – and rejected. Would you have it that our elected members be no longer free to converse amongst themselves, establish the facts, and form and express opinions? What are Councillors elected to do if not form and express opinions? It is not within your remit to stifle debate.
If any councillor has any concerns about their well-being or evidence of bullying, harassment or threatening behaviour then I would ask that you use the appropriate channels and contact me or the Monitoring Officer direct to discuss your concerns. However if you feel at risk of harm please contact NY Police on either 101 or 999 (in emergency).
I repeat what you already well know; hard evidence has been shared with the Council and the North Yorkshire Police, whose advice to me was that, in order to protect myself, my wife and my animals, I should “stay home – lock my doors and windows”. The Council has offered no advice – except that members should not converse.
 
Be clear: I DO feel at risk; I am in my mid-seventies, with poor and failing sight and general health. Clearly, neither your advice nor that of the North Yorkshire Police suffices for me and my family to go about our daily round without fear of a malicious and violent assault.
 
I was interested to note, by the way (and please forgive this illustrative reference to something relatively inconsequential), that at last week’s Council meeting, such was your confidence in the “security” to which you refer above, that you and your Officers chose to avoid the reserved (but fully exposed) parking spaces adjacent to the main public entrance to the meeting (on the promenade), perhaps not wishing to step out of the relative safety of your cars in such an unprotected environment, and entering the building discreetly by a ‘safer’ and more private entrance. Quelle courage!
Clearly, lesser mortals could take their chances out in the open, but not masters of the universe – is that it? Or is it that only the “security” of Officers and the Leader of the present administration merits the full application of the Council’s Duty of Care?
 
We arrive at the point, Mike, where you have dug yourself in deeper with each ill-considered utterance.
Regards,
Mike Greene
Chief Executive, Scarborough Borough Council
e: mike.greene@scarborough.gov.uk | t: 01723 232302 |
Follow us on Twitter @scarborocouncil
Like us on facebook.com/scarboroughcouncil
Office: Town Hall, St Nicholas Street, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 2HG

I have some points of my own to make, Mike.
Please give them your best attention.
Political Manoeuvering
By permitting the status quo to continue, not only is the Leader’s precarious majority irresponsibly supported, it is supported at the risk of the lives and wellbeing of both the perpetrator and the potential victims. All of their destinies have been cast aside in favour of the Leader’s delicate security of tenure. This smacks of a callous and careless self-interest and it is my contention that it is entirely inappropriate for you to support it, or be seen to support it.
Fear and Anguish
Councillors have spoken to you, in private, about the fear and anguish they have suffered – literally having to apply such measures as installing chains on their doors, motion-sensitive external lighting and camera surveillance. They are afraid, too, for their families, visitors and animals – as am I.
One frightened recipient of threats spoke to me of an immediate impulse to delete threatening emails arriving onher/his private email client on the family computer. I can understand this repulsion. Phone calls, emails and text messages of this nature are a violation of, and intrusion into, personal space – akin to burglary.
Do you argue that such ‘assaults’ are within the boundaries set out in the NOLAN Principles? On what basis have they never been addressed by the Standards Committee? I have already proved that there have been Standards Complaints and that they have been dismissed by the Monitoring Offence and Independent Person with a derisory ‘decision’ of “no further action”.
Abuse of Due Process
Permitting the perpetrator of these murderous threats – sick or well – to lodge frivolous, fatuous or malicious Standards Complaints against any, or every one, of the accusers (who have generously avoided naming the perpetrator in public) is a travesty and an abuse of due process. It is also a profligate waste of the Council’s resources. It is pandering to an act of perceived vengeance manifestly intended to be as deliberately hurtful as the original threats.
Censure or Compassion?
This situation has two sides: criminality and mental ill-health.
It should be remembered that these credible threats to commit murder have been accompanied by multiple, equally credible threats to commit suicide.
It should also be remembered that the perpetrator has publicly stated:
“I am of the view that I would prefer to be judged for what I actually say than rather than what I am reported to have said”.
That judgement has been studiously avoided by the Council for far too long.
Arguably, neither is the product of a sound and balanced mind. Certainly, both require the highest possible level of Safeguarding.
I have stated elsewhere – also to the Police – that, on the one hand, being deemed unfit to face trial on criminal charges, on “mental ill-health” grounds, cannot be compatible with, on the other hand, holding public office in the position of Portfolio Holder on the Council’s Cabinet; either the perpetrator is in command of full faculties and subject to being held to account, or the perpetrator must be absolved from even the most serious responsibilities, in virtue of being unfit (in the medical sense) for public office, perhaps even liberty.
Few responsibilities in local government exceed those of holding a Portfolio; few are more stressful. These responsibilities cannot reasonably be allowed to add to the burdens of a sick mind.
A choice must be made. Face the music – or, on health grounds, abandon the civic responsibilities. I have urged the latter, in what I believe to be the best interests of the perpetrator, for over five years.
Clinging to some notional middle ground succeeds only in trashing the reputation of the Council far beyond mere ‘gross disrepute’. It is, in my view, tantamount to criminal negligence on the part of the ‘directing minds’ at SBC, and may be viewed as such in the event of any future tragedy.
Thwarting Democracy
Have you considered the extent to which the extreme toxicity of present meetings of Council is thwarting democracy? Electors cannot avail themselves of their democratic right to representation if their elected Councillor(s) feel mortally unsafe in attending meetings. Nor, quite rightly, do they want their Councillor(s) to risk being either stabbed to death or witness a bloody and gruesome suicide. They want their elected members to represent them in perfect safety.
In the present circumstances, these electors are thus disenfranchised.
Have you sought external legal advice on that? Disenfranchisement as a consequence of threats to kill? Please append this query to my FOIA Request. Thank you.
Dereliction of Duty of Care
You decline to correspond (much less meet) with me. You imagine that you cannot be held to account by me. Very well.
One more vitriolic tantrum, one more malignant phone call, one more threatening email, one more promise of “a good Irish kicking” – one more assault, or frenzy of criminal damage in the work place (two have been reported to me, during your tenure, external to the trashed i-Pad at the Town Hall) – what is the threshold above which the Council will cease trivialising this most outrageous affront to the good standing of the Council?
Are you satisfied that you are fulfilling your Duty of Care beyond all risk of reproach? Or are you complacently confident that you will never be held to account for your inaction?
Are you abdicating these responsibilities to your paymasters, the Councillors – in fact, to the Leader?
Petition
I am aware that you and your Officers may not take part in government Petitions; however, it would be appropriate for you to draw members attention to the following:
As you see, the Council’s present stance is out of step with the Local Government Association and with the moral climate.
 
I imagine you will disregard my efforts to assist you, as is your wont. You may even instruct your Monitoring Officer to pursue legal action against me, as she did once before (having failed in other attempts to bully me) – with the sole result of branding herself a liar on BBC television.
 
I am not afraid of bullies and liars. Conversely, you seem to have demonstrated that you are afraid of the truth.
In the interests of democracy, of dignified debate, of true representation, of compassion and simple humanity, the Council must achieve an equitable resolution to this dreadful double-bind, now.
I would urge the Council to take as its starting point the following Wikipedia entry. It is instructive and cannot be ruled out:
The Council must consider how to strike a just balance between facilitating a respectful, dignified, democratic Chamber of Council and the unacceptable (either from incapacity or sheer evil) and frighteningly hysterical frenzy of a member without whom this Council may, in time, achieve an orderly and co-operative transition to the new era of a Unitary North Yorkshire.
I have the means to assist you with this. Just ask.
I strongly urge you to advise the Leader to address this urgent Safeguarding crisis.
Regards,
Nigel

Response

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Party Politics 1:0 Safeguarding (HT)
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2021 23:47:39 +0000 (GMT)
From: postmaster@scarborough.gov.uk
To: Nigel

If you have previously been informed that you have been declared a ‘unreasonably persistent complainant’ by the Council, in line with our policy, your email has been redirected to a single point of contact and will be dealt with as appropriate. Further emails from you will continue to be directed to a single point of contact until you are informed otherwise.

More information about the policy can be found online at:

https://democracy.scarborough.gov.uk/ecSDDisplay.aspx?NAME=Unreasonably%20Persistent%20and%20Persistent%20Complaints&ID=2548&RPID=10650161

If you have not been designated under the Policy, your email will be forwarded to the correct recipient. Please do not reply to this email address or use it in the future.


 

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