Harrogate Councillor reprimanded for disrespectful behaviour

Coun Nigel Simms
Coun Nigel Simms

A Harrogate Borough Councillor has been reprimanded for disrespectful behaviour towards council staff, including the district’s chief planner.

Members of the General Standards Committee ruled on Monday (March 19) that Coun Nigel Simms (Con, Mashamshire), Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee, went beyond reasonable criticism of council officers at a member briefing on the draft Local Plan.

Chief Planner, Gary Bell, was among the team of officers presenting at the meeting and raised the complaint, alleging that Coun Simms became increasingly aggressive and intimidating.

While finding Coun Simms had breached the Council Code of Conduct, for being disrespectful towards officers, the Panel agreed with an investigating officer’s findings that he had not been bullying or intimidating.

The report states: “On the evidence presented, the panel concluded that whilst Councillor Simms’ conduct was not premeditated nor malicious, the level of frustration and anger he directed at the officers went beyond reasonable criticism and amounted to disrespectful treatment of officers.”

“The Panel accepted the Investigating Officer’s finding that Councillor Simms had not acted in breach of paragraph three of the code of conduct which provides that councillors must not bully or intimidate any person.”

Coun Simms has previously served as Mayor of Harrogate and currently also serves on the Nidderdale AONB Joint Advisory Committee.

The Advertiser has approached Coun Simms for comment.