Investigation launched after complaints against South Tyneside Council leader - letter raises concerns over 'actions and behaviours'

An investigation has been launched after two senior town hall officials made a complaint about the leader of South Tyneside Council.

Councillor Iain Malcolm, the leader of South Tyneside Council
Councillor Iain Malcolm, the leader of South Tyneside Council

Complaints by the two officers have raised concerns about the ‘actions and behaviours’ of Iain Malcolm, the leader of the council.

The letter, which was dated July 13 but which has now come to light and been shared on social media, was signed by Stuart Reid, the council’s corporate director of business and resources, and Nicola Robason, head of corporate and external affairs.

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This includes the claim he presided over an working environment which affected the ability of staff to carry out their responsibilities.

The letter states: “We and other officers have done our utmost to continue to keep council services operating as normal, whilst maintaining regular contact with Cllr Malcolm despite being fearful, bullied and controlled.

“We care about the wellbeing and reputation of the council and continuing to do the job we are paid for, despite the difficult working conditions.”

It added: “We have an exceptional loyalty to the council we serve, but that sense of loyalty has been tested to breaking point.”

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Ms Robason is also the council’s monitoring officer, responsible for ensuring staff and officers comply with its rules and codes of conduct.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said “A complaint is being progressed by an external independent investigator.

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“The outcome of that investigation will determine whether it meets the threshold for referral to the Council’s standards committee in due course.

“We are unable to comment further at this time.”

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When contacted directly, Coun Malcolm said: “The matter is going through due process and it’s important to let the investigator review all the facts.”

In a statement released via her Twitter account, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck said she had been made aware of the complaints ‘weeks ago’ and referenced her own ‘fractured relationship’ with the council’s leadership.

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She added: “A letter in the name of two officers of South Tyneside Council has been published on Facebook making several allegations against the leadership of the local authority.

"I received a copy of this letter a number of weeks ago and believed it was something which needed to be seen by the police, the Labour Party nationally and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government so duly passed it to them.

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“Having made the allegations they have, there is a clear safeguarding issue which should have been given top priority. I await the results of the various investigations and will continue daily to press for action.”

She added: “I chose not to make this document public when it came to me, considering that to do so could potentially hamper the investigations or have significant consequences for the work of the authors.

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“I remain extremely concerned for the welfare of them both.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We are aware of the complaint but we cannot comment on ongoing investigations.”

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Thank you.