Town councillor resigns from Conservative Party amid “officer bullying” claims

Headshot of a man superimposed over a council noticeboard.
Bradley Stoke town councillor Ed Rose.

A Bradley Stoke town councillor has resigned from the Conservative Party in response to what he describes as “bullying and targeting” of council officers by fellow councillors within the majority Conservative group.

Cllr Ed Rose, one of seven councillors representing the South ward, now sits as an independent, leaving the make up of council as ten Conservatives, two Labour, one Green and two independents.

The Journal understands that Cllr Rose initially submitted a letter of outright resignation as a councillor, but was persuaded to stay on as an independent to spare the council the embarrassment and cost (circa. £13,000) of a potential by-election less than a year before the next regular four-yearly elections in May 2023.

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In an email sent to the Journal, Cllr Rose says his decision to resign his party membership was based on “moral and behaviours exhibited by certain individuals of the Conservatives”. He adds that his new standing will enable him to “be free to question and to name and shame those who are clearly bullying and not concerned for what the people of this township want”.

In other correspondence seen by the Journal, Cllr Rose expresses contempt for the “Tom and Tony show”, referring to former mayor Cllr Tom Aditya and current mayor Tony Griffiths (both Conservatives) who he says have both been in the habit of turning up unannounced at the town council office demanding the immediate attention of officers.

Photo of two councillors, one wearing a ceremonial chain.
“The Tom and Tony show”: Newly elected mayor Tony Griffiths (left) receives the chain of office from former mayor Tom Aditya at the Annual Meeting of Bradley Stoke Town Council in May 2022.

According to Cllr Rose, officers are “being bullied and spoken to as if indentured servants”.

Another (non-Conservative) councillor contacted by the Journal spoke of officers being the target of “incredibly unpleasant” behaviour.

New protocol

Council meeting minutes suggest that the working relationship between council officers and some council members may have been strained for some time.

The minutes of a Planning Committee meeting in September 2021 show that approaches had been made to the human resources department at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) for support in drawing up an ‘expected standards’ protocol and holding a ‘ways of working’ meeting.

A draft ‘expected standards’ protocol was produced by SGC and distributed to councillors and officers. An informal ‘ways of working’ meeting was then held to discuss the draft protocol and suggest various changes and amendments to ensure everyone’s input. The evening meeting on 6th December 2021 was attended by councillors, officers and a representative form the SGC human resources department. However the turnout from councillors was poor, with only six of the (then) 14 members attending. Notable absentees were Cllrs Aditya and Griffiths, who sent their apologies (as did four other members).

Once the final version of the protocol was formulated, it was then presented to a full council meeting for discussion and approval.

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The protocol was originally on the agenda for the Full Council meeting on 19th January 2022, however, the meeting ran out of time on that night, so it was carried over to the Full Council meeting on 16th March 2022, where the protocol was then formally discussed and agreed.

The minutes of that meeting record that, following “much discussion”, Cllrs Aditya and Griffiths attempted to have a sentence about “councillor visits to the town council office” removed from the protocol (see emphasised text below).

“2.2.2 Value other colleagues work and roles, this may mean that requests for information from Councillors are dealt with in an agreed way – through the Town Clerk. Visits to the Town Council office by Councillors should be where possible organised in advance so time can be given to them.

However, their proposal (put forward by Cllr Aditya and seconded by Cllr Griffiths) was defeated by seven votes to three. Councillors then went on to approve the unaltered draft protocol (save for some minor paragraph numbering amendments) by seven votes to three.

SGC’s bill for drafting of the protocol and providing support at the informal ‘ways of working’ meeting was £241.

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Tail wagging

Although the protocol is now in place, comments made by new mayor Cllr Griffiths at the Annual Meeting of Council in May 2022 suggest that he remains unhappy with the working relationship between councillors and officers. In his mayoral acceptance speech, Cllr Griffiths said:

“I hope that during my year in office, all councillors can work together in harmony, and I trust the councillors and staff will also work together in harmony.”

“I trust the Councillors and staff do not act as lone wolfs and they will obey the protocols already in place, and before an item appears in an email the Chair is informed what a member of staff has in mind as it is the Councillors that represent the constituents and not the staff. We need more dog wagging the tail not tail wagging the dog.[Emphasis added by the Journal]

Asked by the Journal to elaborate on his somewhat cryptic comments, Cllr Griffiths declined, adding that he would only be prepared to do this in November 2022. [Editor’s note: This date is significant as a councillor resignation does not trigger a by-election if it happens within six months of planned regular elections for the whole council.]

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Full resignation statement by Cllr Ed Rose

“I have resigned from the Conservatives completely, leaving that party behind. I joined politics of Bradley Stoke back in 2012 due to complaining about the high density of rubbish on the street, only to be told by SGC to man up and be a councillor if that concerned.”

“I did write to all parties expressing interest from which only one bothered to reply, that was through Cllr Ben Walker [at that time Conservative].”

“I united with Ben later to go join UKIP, because the Conservatives only had deaf ears, blinded sight and no interests to answer some quite serious questions. We all know how that charade turned out, neither side could clearly state their case, all Westminster wobble and shouting.”

“I returned to the Conservative party, to continue serving Bradley Stoke, as better the devil you know.”

“The problem encountered and still is a growing concern relates to the behaviour of certain persons, which is good common decent manners in absence, shamefully those arrogant non-gentleman continue to bully and target individuals they deem beneath them. It has happened in my line of sight and in meetings, where other councillors remain mum.”

“Unable to stomach the never ending excuses for quashing the raising up such concern, is by tow the party line of what the mayor wants. Does 1933 ring any bells?”

“Yes, resigned to be independent councillor, enabling a moral voice (even if always out voted by majority) to be clearly said and aimed to check these behaviours and protect the very heart of BSTC, the office and support staff, and bring a level of fairness for the other non-Conservative councillors’ good works being recognised.”

“I believe that politics must be removed from parish and town councils, as should only be elected persons actually living in the area, not a rental property address.”

“And you will still find me walking about my ward on a regular collection of wayward litter, much to the amusement of the local Tesco Express.”

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As Cllr Rose mentions, this is not the first time that he has resigned from the political party under whose banner he was elected. In May 2012, one year after being elected to the town council as a Conservative, he joined former Bradley Stoke mayor Ben Walker in defecting to UKIP.

Ex-Tories Ben Walker and Ed Rose are welcomed into UKIP.
May 2012: Former Conservative councillors Ben Walker and Ed Rose are welcomed into UKIP.

He subsequently failed to be re-elected to the town council when standing under the UKIP banner in the 2015 elections, but having rejoined the Conservative Party he successfully stood for a seat in the 2019 elections.

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