Posted: 21.09.20 at 13:37 by The Editor
Two Deepings councillors have clashed over one reportedly calling the other a ‘witch’ at a ‘virtual’ council meeting.
The ding dong is between Conservative Judy Stevens and Independent Virginia Moran, who are widely known not to get on.
An inquiry at the council has determined that Coun Moran called Coun Stevens a ‘witch’, something Coun Moran has apologised for, though she disputes using the term as claimed.
At last week’s meeting of the full council, Coun Stevens asked Council Leader Kelham Cooke if Coun Moran should apologise for a comment she made during the previous ‘virtual’ meeting of the full council six weeks ago.
Councillors could be heard tittering in the background and Coun Cooke suggested Coun Moran be asked to apologise in public.
Members waited with baited breath but no apology was forthcoming and efforts to speak to Coun Moran at the time came to nothing. Coun Moran later blamed this on ‘technical difficulties.’
The dispute over the insult began during an online vote at the end of a chaotic council meeting in July when several councillors complained that they had heard a word that sounded like “witch”.
Coun Moran immediately admitted that she had spoken the word “which?” to a member of her family off-camera.
A few days later, Coun Stevens complained to the Council’s Monitoring Officer believing she had been insulted.
An ‘independent person’ employed by the council then produced a 15-page report, which concluded Coun Moran had been at fault.
After last week’s meeting, Coun Moran told Nub News: “During a fractious meeting in July, I admitted to making a comment to which Cllr Stevens decided to take offence. This led to a detailed investigation with which I fully co-operated. The investigating officer found that I was at fault and, although I disagreed with his conclusion, I made an apology at the time.”
She added: “I thought it was very petty of Coun Stevens to complain in the first place but I assumed that the matter had been settled by the investigation. I was therefore surprised and disappointed to learn that Coun Stevens had engaged in such histrionics at the council meeting last week”.
When contacted by Nub News, Coun Stevens declined to comment and referred us to the council’s communications team.
A council statement said: “A complaint was received about Councillor Virginia Moran.
“We have assessed the allegations made within the complaint against the Members’ Code of Conduct in accordance with our member complaints process.
“Following the assessment an independent investigation concluded that the comments made breached the council’s Code of Conduct.
“As a result a written apology has been issued and received.”