A Bradley Stoke town councillor and former mayor has resigned from the Conservative party amid allegations of bullying and harassment believed to have been made by a fellow councillor.
Cllr Elaine Hardwick, who was first elected to the council on a Conservative ticket in 2011 and served as mayor in 2016-17, resigned from the party just days after her membership had been suspended following a disciplinary panel hearing understood to have taken place on 8th August.
The Bristol Post reported having seen an email from Peter Booth, the Conservative Party’s South West regional chairman, saying that the panel had “found no alternative but to uphold the complaints of bullying and harassment made against Elaine Hardwick”.
The final decision to suspend her membership is understood to have been taken by senior figures in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire Conservative Federation (BSGCF), which covers six parliamentary constituencies in the local area.
In response to a request for a statement, Charles Lucas, chair of the federation, replied: “We do not comment on internal party matters.” He added that he would not, in any case, be able to make any comment as Cllr Hardwick had now resigned from the party.
Prior to her suspension, Cllr Hardwick held several senior positions in the local party hierarchy, including deputy chair of BSGCF, chair of the Filton and Bradley Stoke Constituency branch and chair of the local Bradley Stoke branch.
Cllr Hardwick told the Journal that she intends to challenge the suspension decision and is currently taking legal advice. She will, however, continue to attend town council meetings as an unaffiliated councillor.
The Journal has learned that the formal complaint about Cllr Hardwick’s conduct was submitted to the party just days after the town council’s AGM on 9th May, where an unprecedented two-way vote was called to select the next chair of council, breaking a convention established since the council first became wholly Conservative in 2011 that the next chair is agreed in a party group meeting held prior to the AGM and elected unopposed.
The losing candidate, whom Cllr Hardwick had not supported, and two other councillors walked out of the AGM a few minutes after the decision was reached.
The Journal has learned that this humiliating defeat was viewed as the final straw by the aggrieved councillor who filed the complaint against Cllr Hardwick.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 3). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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