'Third Reich council' comment 'unacceptable'
A CAMPAIGNER has been 'rapped' for an outburst likening Torbay Council to the 'Third Reich'.
Susie Colley, former mayoral candidate, has been told that her behaviour was 'unacceptable' in a formal letter from council chief executive Elizabeth Raikes.
It is in response to a comment made by Mrs Colley at a meeting of the health scrutiny board on May 14.
She demanded to be heard from the public seating after two committee councillors walked out over a refusal by the chairman Jane Barnby to discuss the care of a disabled resident in Torbay.
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The meeting was temporarily adjourned and security guards were called in after the outburst in which she asked: "Is this council being run by the Third Reich?"
Now, Mrs Colley has been told by the authority boss that her behaviour was felt 'unacceptable, in particular your choice of language which was offensive'.
The initial complaint came from Cllr John Thomas, a health board member and overview and scrutiny co-ordinator.
Mrs Colley said: "I am happy to give a guarded apology to Cllr Thomas, and to the other Councillors who chose to stay at the meeting, for the comments I made in the heat of the moment.
"I am assuming that it was my comment about the 'Third Reich' that he has objected to."
Mrs Colley maintained that she was 'deeply offended' by the committee members who chose to stay at the meeting despite the urgent item not being heard.
She said: "For them to hide behind protocol and put their political standing ahead of the needs of a vulnerable adult is quite frankly not only deeply offensive but utterly shameful behaviour."
Cllr Thomas confirmed that he asked Mrs Raikes to write the letter to set out the council's position about the behaviour.
He said: "Beyond that, I don't think it is appropriate to comment further," he said.
The letter sets out provisions open to the authority in dealing with disturbances by members of the public and rules around clearing the public seating if necessary.
Mrs Raikes said in the letter: "While you are welcome to attend future meetings, I would remind you that it is at the chairman's discretion that you address the committee and that you should do so with courtesy and respect and not use abusive, discriminatory or offensive language."
A Torbay Council spokesman said that Mrs Raikes did not wish to comment further on the matter adding that the letter clearly set out the provisions open to the council in dealing with disturbances during meetings.