The Mayor of Boston called another councillor a ‘louse’ and suggested he was jealous of her as she accused them of a “co-ordinated campaign of bullying” on her during a council meeting on Monday.
Independent Councillor Anne Dorrian read from Robert Burns “To a Louse” as she responded to Councillor Tom Ashton’s request for her to apologise for a series of comments made to fellow Tories over the past four years.
She also accused him of breaching the members’ code of conduct by quoting a “highly confidential” letter.
It followed several questions to the mayor from Councillor Ashton during the course of the evening, which targeted her balance and her openness and transparency in the role of mayor.
In his last question, Councillor Ashton referred to a letter Councillor Dorrian had sent to members “complaining” of things including questions around her conduct. He asked if she would apologise for her own comments over the past four years.
This included, he said, “vitriol” at one councillor and the questioning of another’s reading age.
Councillor Dorrian’s quote from To A Louse in response included the lines: “Ye ugly, creepan, blastet wonner, Detested, shunn’d, by saunt an’ sinner.”
She said the email to members had aimed to “put them on notice” after she noted “disturbing behaviours” from several of them.
“In the email I comment your behaviour appears to be part of a coordinated campaign of bullying and harassment towards me and I asked you to stop yet here you are, again,” she said.
She added that the behaviour was having a detrimental impact on her health and wellbeing.
“What would it take for you to just leave me alone?” She asked.
Councillor Dorrian accused Councillor Ashton of attempting to “impugn my character and denigrate my role as mayor”.
“I can only assume that it’s because I’ve worked so very hard to make the mayorality a success that the green eyed monster has reared his ugly head,” she told members, noting that despite invitations to several events, Councillor Ashton had not attended..
She went on to claim that she had “reinvented” the role of mayor to make it “relevant for the 21st century” and that she had ensured protocols which had “slipped so badly under recent mayors” were reinstated.
Following the meeting, Councillor Dorrian said she was reluctant to make a formal complaint “because an investigation would use up precious council resources”.
“I am hopeful that a public admonishment would be sufficient to ensure that Councillor Ashton thinks before he acts in future,” she said.
Councillor Ashton, however, said: “As far as I’m concerned all I have done is exercise my democratic right as a councillor to ask perfectly legitimate questions about where the mayor draws the line between her mayoral duties and those as councillor for Skirbeck.”
He said the response from Councillor Dorrian had been “awful and belittling”, adding, however, that he was not surprised.
He said the letter had been submitted to him in Councillor Dorrian’s capacity as mayor, on official letterheaded paper.
“In my view I’m within my rights to ask questions related to that correspondence,” he said.
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