Hill to face new conduct inquiry

Berwick town councillor Georgina Hill is facing a new inquiry after a code of conduct complaint was made about her behaviour.

Thursday, 7th April 2016, 7:42 am
Georgina Hill

The complaint has been lodged by Mayor Hazel Bettison and will now be looked into by the monitoring officer at Northumberland County Council.

It all stems from the decision to spend most of the remaining Portas money on a new footpath on the quayside.

Cllr Hill tried to question the process behind the decision at a town council meeting in January but Cllr Bettison would not allow further debate and banged on the table to bring the meeting to order.

It is understood there was a heated argument between the pair at a closed session of the staffing committee when the issue came up again.

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On her public facebook page, Cllr Hill accuses Cllr Bettison of ‘cooking up’ the complaint and other councillors who have backed the mayor of joining a ‘witch hunt’ against her.

She writes: “The Mayor, Cllr Bettison has repeatedly raised her voice at meetings and prevented me and others from contributing to debates.

“At the staffing meeting the Mayor tried to prevent me from speaking when I was raising an important issue and stood up and started shouting at me I became frustrated and shouted back as this had happened repeatedly.”

“Her behaviour at a number of recent meetings and extremely poor chairmanship skills has brought the council in to disrepute.”

Cllr Bettison has already apologised for her behaviour at the January town council meeting, saying she had to bang on the table and shout to bring the meeting to order because she had no gavel.

The county council insists it had the agreement of the town council to earmark some £55,000 for the disabled-friendly footpath. However, Cllr Hill and a number of other councillors complained this was not a decision reached by the full council and called for clarity.

Last year, Cllr Hill was the subject of a standards committee hearing following complaints made against her alleged conduct by Cllr Gavin Jones and ex-clerk Sue Finch. The committee ruled that Cllr Hill had bullied the clerk, disclosed confidential information and brought the group into disrepute. A number of other accusations against her were not proven. As a result, Cllr Hill was removed from her role as finance and resource committee chairman for 12 months.