The behaviour of a district councillor at a planning committee hearing, including ‘placing their hands on an objector’s shoulders’, has been flagged as ‘unnecessarily intrusive and condescending’.
Disciplinary measures will not be taken against the councillor, both their name and the date of the incident has been withheld by Harrogate Borough Council, following meetings with a complainant; who said they were approached during a break of a meeting.
Whilst standing close to them the councillor said ‘they would not win’ and left them uncomfortable, according to a HBC standards report. Although the councillor apologised investigators, Ch&i associates, reviewed the situation.
The report states: "By telling the Complainant that they would not win, the Councillor risked giving the impression that the Committee had predetermined the application. The Complainant said that it made them feel like they were wasting their time and that the incident has discouraged them from ever becoming involved in a similar manner in the future.
"The Investigator also believed that the Councillor exacerbated the situation by patronising the Complainant. The Complainant described the Councillor’s behaviour as paternalistic and the Investigator agreed; while it may have been benign in its intention, it was also unnecessarily intrusive and condescending."
No public hearing will be held as steps were taken, including a summary of the incident being made part of councillor’s training.
A HBC spokesperson said: “The complainant is happy with the way in which their complaint was investigated, handled and indeed the outcome. The matter did did not proceed to a full hearing, so no further action has been taken.
They added: “The complaint was handled in accordance with our procedure; its findings are in a public report enabling transparency; and it was the independent investigator who recommended the resolution of the complaint.”