A RYEDALE District Council member has accused another councillor of influencing a report on bullying at the council until it “produces a result he wants”.

Cllr Robert Wainwright has questioned the progress of an investigation into alleged bullying at the authority at council meetings in December, June, September and, for the fourth time, at the meeting on Thursday night.

His questions have largely been directed at Cllr John Clark, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee which commissioned the report more than a year ago - with a budget of £10,000 - and which so far has not released its findings.

At Thursday’s meeting, Cllr Wainwright said: “I believed that [an investigation into alleged bullying] was an impossible task, that no positive result would be forthcoming, and that it would be a waste of residents’ money.

“In that, I feel, I was correct.

“I’m assuming we haven’t had a scrutiny report on this subject because it hasn’t produced the results that you wanted. That you are chivvying - I wouldn’t be so bold as to say bullying - the producers of the report until they produce a result you want.”

Cllr Clark responded that there has been no progress on releasing the report due to some items in it being “exempt” - information withheld from the press and public.

He said: “I am not going to put exempt information into the public domain.

“I have only ever wanted the bullying that I thought might be happening - the best part of five years ago now - to be looked into.

“Nothing happened for three-and-a-half of those years.

“Chivvying the report’s authors? What exactly is Cllr Wainwright alluding to? That when we ask for independent, confidential report to be done that I would then try and influence and change that result?

“Just put one smidgen of evidence on the table, or withdraw. That is not the sort of accusation I’m prepared to take from anybody without evidence. And you haven’t got a jot of evidence for one very good reason - there is no evidence.”

Cllr Wainwright also questioned Cllr Fiona Farnell, who is chairman of the planning committee and also the council’s “staff champion” - an elected member who acts as a point of contact between council staff and the members.

Cllr Wainwright asked whether she has seen a draft report into bullying.

She said she hadn’t.

In July 2017, when the council agreed to fund the report, a staff survey revealed that about a third of staff were aware of bullying at the authority.

In July 2018, when the Gazette & Herald made a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the report, the council responded that it “does not hold any report by the overview and scrutiny committee into alleged bullying at Ryedale District Council”.