Honiton councillor acted ‘maliciously’ damning report finds

Latest twist in the long running saga of Honiton Town Council – East Devon’s answer to Handforth PC

Hannah Corfield honiton.nub.news

A Honiton councillor has been found in breach of the Code of Conduct, specifically related to treating people with respect and bullying.

Following a six-hour Standards Hearing conducted by a sub committee at East Devon District Council (EDDC) on March 12, three separate complaints made against Cllr John Taylor were upheld and sanctions imposed.

Concerns were raised following Cllr Taylor’s actions in relation to Tony McCollum in May 2020 when Honiton Street Market was undergoing Covid risk assessments. At the time, Mr McCollum was employed by Honiton Town Council as Town Development Manager.

Cllr Taylor’s comments submitted within a Covid compliance document were used as evidence.

Examples are detailed below:

• “No effort has been made by either Mr McCullum [sic] or Cllr Wyatt to consider measurements

*NB. Cllr Taylor misspells McCollum as McCullum

• Mr McCullum was there but was engrossed in consecutive phone calls

• Cllr Wyatt has not dealt with facts at all save cursory non-critical reference to three pages of documents provided by not authored by Mr McCullum

• That accords with the failure of Mr McCullum to pursue any of the above described work

• Mr McCullum and Cllr Wyatt mentioned the Cattle Market…it is astounding that such a dumb proposal has been made”

In a report issued yesterday (March 25) it said: “The Sub Committee found that Cllr Taylor’s conduct as set out above was a pattern of behaviour which amounted to bullying of Mr McCollum.

It went on: “The Sub-Committee found that in there was an imbalance of power in the Member/Officer relationship and that Cllr Taylor sought to sideline and undermine Mr McCollum including purporting to be acting on behalf of the Council.

“This exacerbated the impact of Cllr Taylor’s behaviour and the impact that it had on Mr McCollum.

“The Sub Committee felt that the undermining of Mr McCollum in relation to the work undertaken to consider and evaluate the re-opening of Honiton Street Market was malicious and insulting and undermined his standing and his work.

“The Sub Committee found that Cllr Taylor was misusing his power and that the impact of that behaviour was detrimental to Mr McCollum’s confidence and ability to perform his role.”

In mitigation Cllr Taylor asserted that he was acting to “save lives”, a claim that was not upheld by the Sub Committee.

As recommended by the Monitoring Officer, the following three sanctions have been imposed:

1. Censure of Cllr Taylor.

2. Cllr Taylor undertakes training organised by the Monitoring Officer in relation to the Code of Conduct and very specifically related to bullying and the impact of behaviour upon others and the relationships between officers and members.

3. That following that training Cllr Taylor is asked to issue a written apology to Mr McCollum with the wording to be agreed with the Monitoring Officer.

The report added: “The Sub Committee wished it to be noted that they are particularly concerned about the behaviour of Cllr Taylor, as set out in this decision and also as demonstrated during the Standards Sub Committee hearing.”

A recording of the Standards Hearing can be accessed here.