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Town council takes action to address ‘toxic’ workplace issues

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MELKSHAM Town Council has devised a 17-point plan to address internal team issues and staff wellbeing following months of resignations, low staff morale and unfinished projects.

An informal town council meeting was called on Friday 5th May that was not open to the public, following a series of staff and councillor resignations, complaints about bullying, and complaints about the volume of unfinished projects.

Melksham News has been made aware of complaints both from and about councillors and council staff members. One source said that it has become a ‘toxic’ environment for all.

It is understood that there have been five resignations from council staff over the last 12 months with issues raised such as lack of leadership and lack of action following the submission of a grievance claim of bullying and harassment.

‘Persistent bullying’

Louisa Lewis recently resigned as a councillor and in her resignation letter she said, “This decision comes after experiencing persistent bullying from some councillors and staff members of the town council, causing me significant distress. I had hoped that volunteering as a town councillor would be a positive experience, but unfortunately, it has been far from it. I have personally been attacked and belittled in public, and my efforts have been met with resistance, rather than support.”

Following the meeting, the new 17-point plan identifies that  the council will focus on softer social skills within the team, clarity and continuity of roles, and communication and training for staff.

The plan includes: a focus on development and refresher training for the town clerk; less home-working for roles that involve the support of other staff, councillors or the public; and improved communication between team members.

The council also agreed to look to include mental health first aid training for all, as well as other training courses about town council policies that may cause confusion such as data protection.


It was also revealed the town council’s amenities team raised concerns during the meeting, in what cllr Simon Crundell said was a, “candid and emotional discussion, which highlighted both historical and current issues within the team.”

Finishing projects has been another issue of debate among the councillors and community over recent months and in the plan, cllr Simon Crundell said, “Our officers have conducted a review of the council meetings held in the last 12 months, and have compiled a comprehensive list of motions that have not yet been implemented.

“During the meeting, we had a rigorous conversation on aligning our human resources with our organisational priorities. As a result of this discussion, it was agreed that each committee in the next municipal year will receive a list of outstanding motions, and the new membership will work together to prioritise their efforts towards addressing them.”

It has been agreed by councillors to attend a similar meeting to review progress in the next year. Cllr Simon Crundell said, “Our town’s motto is unity and progress. We certainly lived up to that.”

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