Shaftesbury Councillors’ Conduct Hearing Postponed Due To Dorset Council Error

A formal hearing into the conduct of two Shaftesbury Town councillors, Karen Tippins and Peter Yeo, has been postponed. Dorset Council received a last-minute challenge on Monday afternoon.

It meant that a Governance Committee hearing planned for Tuesday morning couldn’t go ahead.

The session was called following a previous hearing in December, which Cllr Yeo described as ‘a trial’. The committee had been expected to determine whether the two councillors face sanctions for their behaviour, which some complainants argue has brought Shaftesbury Town Council into disrepute.

One complaint related to Cllr Yeo’s alleged use of an obscene hand gesture and swearing during a town council meeting in June. The December panel criticised Cllr Yeo for that behaviour.

The pre-Christmas hearing also heard that Cllr Tippins’ alleged decision not to face a guest speaker, who was informing Shaftesbury Town Council of Shaftesbury FC future plans, was unprofessional.

The December board also reviewed complaints received when Cllr Tippins referred to Cllr Matthew Welch as ‘thick’ and an ‘idiot’. Cllr Tippins apologised, but her note to Cllr Welch was sent following the circulation of a Dorset Council officer’s report into her behaviour.

The chairman of this week’s hearing, Cllr Mike Parkes, explained that Dorset Council had received an email at 4.20pm on Monday which raised concern that the correct procedure for the hearings had not been followed. The two councillors had not been given the contact details of the independent persons appointed for them to consult with during the process. Cllr Parkes said the hearing will be adjourned to allow each councillor to consult with that independent person. The panel is expected to reconvene later this month.

Both Cllrs Yeo and Tippins have previously issued statements to Alfred which claim that the hearings are a waste of public money and time. They both dispute the allegations.