Mayor’s silence as council clerk abused

A still of February's meeting
A still of February's meeting

Houghton Regis’s mayor was called to task by a shocked member of the public after her clerk was verbally abused at a council meeting.

Clerk Clare Evans was sworn at by another member of the public during an angry outburst at February’s special council meeting to discuss the damaged floor at the council headquarters.

The video of the meeting has since appeared on YouTube showing the angry scenes in full (see video, 3:00).

But it was only when another member of the public demanded to know why there had been no action to protect Ms Evans that Cllr Joanna Hillyard responded to the insults.

Other members of the council also took no action while resident Roger Guigno launched a verbal attack against the town clerk Clare Evans – calling for the suspension of both Ms Evans and a town council employee he accused of blackmail.

Throwing his papers across the room, he shouted: “You’ve got a f****** clerk who sits there and says nothing, you don’t deserve to be in your job.

“This is the second time you’ve let us down, there won’t be a third time.”

After Mr Giugno left, the chairman of the meeting Cllr Hillyard was criticised by a member of the public – understood to be the daughter of a Labour councillor – for taking no action during Mr Giugno’s outburst.

Cllr Hillyard told the Gazette: “Town council meetings are open to the public and residents are always encouraged to attend to raise issues and ask questions. Although rare, sometimes these attendances can be on difficult or emotive issues.

“On this particular occasion, the resident was clearly upset and expressed this as is shown in the video you refer to.

“It must be reiterated that these occasions are very rare and given the circumstances, it is believed that both myself and the clerk were quite shocked, as I imagine were the other councillors at the meeting.

“The council’s Standing Order Policy does make reference on how to manage ‘Disorderly Conduct in a public meeting’ where by any Cllr or Chair can move a motion to no longer hear someone, none of the other 12 Councillors or indeed myself managed to draw upon this in the heat of the moment.

“There has been an internal review resulting in appropriate measures being taken.”

Mr Giugno is currently prohibited from speaking to the clerk.

Next month’s by-election for a seat on Houghton Regis Town Council promises to be memorable after Mr Giugno announced he would run as a candidate.

The candidates for the Houghton Hall by-election on May 3 are:

> ROGER GIUGNO, Time for Houghton to be Heard.

> YVONNE FARRELL, Liberal Democrats.

> ALEX BUTLER, The Labour Party.

The by-election for Houghton Hall follows the death of Cllr Robin Hines and will take place on May 3.

Although the town council had previously voted to dispense with polling cards, they overturned their decision in a meeting on April 6 after concerns were raised by the council’s returning officer.