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Bullying case against councillor is dropped.

Byline: OWEN HUGHES

A COUNCILLOR who was 'named and shamed' in a bullying probe at a troubled local authority has been cleared.

Members Elwyn Schofield and Barrie Durkin were shunned from the ruling group at Anglesey council after an alliance was formed under controversial "terms of engagement" conditions in 2009. One of the terms was to "publicly and robustly" condemn both members and support reporting them both to the Wales Ombudsman for alleged breaches of the council code of conduct.

But this week the case against Cllr Schofield, who was accused of bullying and harassing monitoring officer Lynn Ball by making "repeated and unfounded" allegations against her, was dropped. A report concluded the evidence was "contradictory and largely uncorroborated".

It said evidence did not conclusively support the allegations or "completely" exonerate Cllr Schofield.

The case against Cllr Durkin is expected to be heard later this year.

Paul Williams, Conservative candidate for Anglesey at the last Assembly election, hit out at former Interim Managing Director David Bowles, who referred the complaint on behalf of party leaders.

He said: "The evidence on which David Bowles was relying was so contradictory and uncorroborated that the Ombudsman has decided to drop the case against Cllr Schofield entirely. Yet it was exactly this agreement (terms of engagement) which exacerbated irreparably the tensions within the council and led ultimately to the imposition of the Commissioners, the unprecedented postponement of local elections on the island, and the drastic local boundary changes. It's clear that the Welsh Government''s expensive and largely inept interventions on Ynys M'n have created far more problems than they have solved."

David Bowles, who has now left the authority, said: "The decision to refer Cllr Schofield to the Ombudsman was supported by the five party leaders. The allegations were looked at by Graeme Creer, a local government specialist from legal firm Weightmans, who concluded there was a case to answer. It was right for the case to be referred." He added the decision by ex-leader Cllr Clive Mc-Gregor to remove Cllr Schofield was due to a view he was a disruptive influence in the recovery. Cllr McGregor said: "I did what I had to do at the time."

Cllr Schofield welcomed that after proper due process the allegations were not sustained, adding: "I welcome the conclusion of the investigation and now look forward to what has been for far too long a distraction to be put aside. I will continue to prioritise and support the progress of the recovery programme for the benefit of the people of Anglesey."

owen.hughes@dailypost.co.uk
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2012
Words:429
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