ELECTED Teignbridge Council members are still not allowed direct access to its staff following incidents of threats, bullying and intimidation. 

Councillors have been unable to use their passes to gain entry to offices in Forde House in Newton Abbot since the pandemic. 

Previously, members had enjoyed ‘free rein’ of the building and were able to speak directly to officers.

But incidents of ‘poor behaviour’ by councillors led to the current situation where members only have access to the main council chamber. 

At his last meeting as chairman, Cllr Chris Clarance said he was ‘disappointed’ they were still not ‘back in the building’.

He told full council a protocol being drawn up for members to follow was still not approved. 

He said: ‘Some staff felt threatened, bullied and intimidated by some councillors. 

‘We were all set to be let back in the building but we need this member protocol to be approved.

‘I believe this has been going on too long.’

The protocol was expected to include points for councillors to avoid ‘personal barbs’ and not to antagonise staff. 

After the meeting, council leader Cllr Martin Wrigley said post pandemic, members’ passes had not been re-enabled to give access to officers in Forde House.

He said there was access to common areas, including the chamber, but not to offices.

He said: ‘There was some concern that access had been abused.

‘There were incidents of some bad behaviour and underlying this there was some bad blood which we have been trying to smooth over.

‘It seemed sensible to have a protocol in place.

‘Behaviour has been better over the last year but the protocol drawn up was too long so we are in the process of negotiating a shorter and more usable version.

‘It needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.’

It had been suggested that councillors having access to some staff had been ‘useful’ in the past such as regarding planning issues.

But there needed to be a balance between protecting staff, some who had been reported to be in ‘tears’ following the behaviour of individual councillors, while allowing ‘collaborative’ communication.