Councillors treated clerk with disrespect

Two members of Cheveley Parish Council breached the authority’s code of conduct by treating the council clerk with disrespect, a panel has found.

Councillors Kathleen Sneller and Sheila Marvin were found to have treated Diane Marshall with disrespect by East 
Cambridgeshire District Council’s finance and governance hearings sub-committee on Friday.

A complaint was made by a member of the public, Elaine Lindsay, who attended a parish council meeting held at Somerset Court in Cheveley on January 26, 2012.

She said the councillors were “openly hostile in their speech and manner”, ignored the clerk’s questions, abstained from voting and carried on personal conversations.

A report by investigating officer Jane Collcott said: 
“Diane Marshall has quite clearly been affected by the behaviours of both Cllr Sneller and Cllr Marvin, which appears to have been going on 
for a sustained period of 
time, rather than being an isolated occurrence.”

John Sneller, representing Cllr Sneller, said Somerset Court had been an “alien environment” that created a “chaotic” meeting where “the councillors, the clerk and the chairman all needed to raise their voices to be heard”.

Cllr Marvin said the meeting was “highly charged”, but added “we behaved in a way necessary to be involved in the meeting”.

The complaint also alleged the councillors had bullied and harassed the clerk and treated former chairman Roderick Humphries with disrespect, but the panel found 
no breach.

Imposing a censure, 
Derrick Beckett, chairman of the panel, said: “As long-serving members of the council, we would expect you to 
show respect to the office of the clerk and set an example 
to other members of the 

“We hope this will give members of the public more confidence in the work of the parish council in future.

“I hope that this will end the disfunctionality that is evident in Cheveley Parish Council and we will see parish councillors doing what they should do.”