Council reject ‘inconceivable’ request to name staff accused of bullying

Douglas Ross – wants any senior staff accused of bullying to be identified

MORAY COUNCIL HAS defended its decision not to name specific senior officers who may have been accused of bullying staff.

This week a report to members of the policy and resources committee agreed a new plan to clamp down on staff bullying that would come at a cost of £136,000.

It came after a staff survey revealed 19% of local authority employees who responded had been subjected to bullying – with 56% having said they felt they had suffered harassment in the workplace involving “a colleague, manager or councillor”.

While the committee agreed to the recommendations by the head of Human Resources, Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross attacked the decision not to name any specific senior officers against whom allegations may have been made.

On being told that it would be unfair to wrongly cast suspicion on any of the four Corporate Directors at the local authority, Councillor Ross said: “I would have concerns if any of those highest paid members of staff had themselves faced allegations on bullying.

“It is only right the public knows whether this is something the people at the top of our organisations has been accused of.  The report clearly states that complaints of bullying have been made against councillors – and there are only 26 of us.

“So I do not think it is fair that it seems to be one rule for the directors and another for us.  These people are on salaries of between £80,000 and £100,000 and should be held accountable for their actions.”

Councillor Ross insisted that he was not prepared to just sit back and accept that because there was only four corporate directors the information could not be made known.

However, having already rejected a request from Councillor Ross under the Freedom of Information Act, because it would constitute a breach of data protection regulations to release personal information, the local authority refused to budge on its decision not to name specific officers, a spokesman saying to do so would be “inconceivable”.

The Council spokesman said: “The corporate management team are just four people and as such could be clearly identified from any response. The council takes the confidentiality of staff records seriously and it is inconceivable that we would put such private information in the public domain.

“The fact that the council is a political environment where questions can be asked in a public forum cannot be used to cut across the basic right of all staff of whatever level to have their human resources records held as confidential.”