Three complaints made against the deputy leader of Carlisle City Council have been upheld – but he claims that the actions heard by the standards committee do not tell the full story.
Documents seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service reveal that sanctions from three complaints have been handed down to Gareth Ellis, who is also the councillor for Belah and Kingmoor, by the authority’s standards committee.
The committee considered four complaints about Cllr Ellis at a meeting on September 20.
The committee found no breach of the city council’s Code of Conduct after reviewing one complaint which alleged Cllr Ellis had made “derogatory comments about the complainant during the pre-live section prior to a virtual council meeting on 3rd November 2020.”
Cllr Ellis acknowledged to the panel that he made a comment but there was “some inconsistency” in witness accounts of what he had said. The council noted that the comment took place in the pre-live section and so he was not acting in his capacity as a city councillor.
A further three complaints were heard and the committee found that Cllr Ellis was in breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct in each of them.
Former city councillor Chris Robinson brought two complaints – one which accused Cllr Ellis of making “rude and disrespectful” comments about him on social media and another which claimed he sent allegations about the former councillor to his place of work.
Cllr Robinson said he feared he would lose his job after colleagues received an email saying he was unfit to settle disputes: “I’ve been prescribed anti-depressants due to this. My anxiety in this comes from what is he going to do next?”
The deputy leader has been asked to send a formal letter for each breach and he must report back to the council.
A separate complaint that Cllr Ellis interrupted a fellow councillor’s speech at council in 2020 was also sanctioned with a formal letter. The Conservative councillor said an altercation between him and Labour’s Cllr Robinson in the chamber after that incident started the ill-feeling between them.
Cllr Ellis said: “There was almost a stand-up fight at the council chamber because a fellow councillor come over to me, swore at me and came face to face with me.”
He launched his own complaint against Cllr Robinson at the time but the Labour councillor no longer serves on the council.
“He came face to face with me in an extraordinarily threatening way, in my history of politics I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Councillor Robinson believes that his former colleague has exaggerated the events. “I would disagree with his description,” he said.