CALLS have been made for a Shaftesbury councillor to resign, after months of “aggressive” and “bullying” behaviour towards her fellow members.

Councillor Karen Tippins joined Shaftesbury Town Council in December, and has since been involved with a string of incidents which has left the authority being described as “in jeopardy”.

Refusing to leave two meetings, resulting in the police being contacted, calling fellow councillor Matthew Welch “thick” and an “idiot” over a Zoom conference, and allegedly causing the resignation of Cllr Julian Prichard, are some of the most recent events which led to discussions of her resignation.

An extraordinary full council meeting was due to be held on May 12 to discuss a motion of no confidence and request Cllr Tippins’ resignation, supported by nine of the 11 councillors, but it was postponed on the day with a new date yet to be announced.

READ MORE: Vale Journal launches to cover Shaftesbury, Gillingham, and the wider Blackmore Vale

In total, 24 items were on the meeting’s agenda detailing the reasons for the motion, describing Cllr Tippins’ behaviour as “improper”, “unprofessional”, “aggressive” and “bullying”.

The motion was put forward by Cllr Andy Hollingshead, who said by proposing the action he was “representing the town” and he hopes for the meeting to be rescheduled “for the end of the month”.

He said that Cllr Tippins was previously “forced off the council” in 2016 before her re-election last year, adding: “[The council was] working really well together, this is all in jeopardy because of one councillor.

"It started the day she got reappointed. Cllr Tippins arrived and bought a different way of working - we don’t seem to see eye-to-eye on anything. It is a deep concern to the town.”

After the verbal abuse towards Cllr Welch last month, the Shaftesbury and District Chamber of Commerce also backed the motion of no confidence, by launching an online petition calling for Cllr Tippins’ immediate resignation

At present the petition has reached around 250 signatures.

Councillor Hollingshead added: “We had made efforts to remind Cllr Tippins her responsibilities and remind her of workplace bullying and harassment, and we tried to resolve problems but these were rejected which has let her behaviour carry on.

“It takes a lot of work to manage a council effectively that isn’t working well and it is a great shame it has got to this, I hope it will get sorted soon.

“The council is excellent and well respected and the surrounding staff are brilliant, they do not need this rubbish.”

Cllr Peter Yeo, who is the only councillor against the motion and spoke to the Journal on behalf of Cllr Tippins, described the planned meeting and its allegations as “improper, unfounded and malicious”.

He said: “Cllr Tippins has quite recently engaged with one of the best solicitors to deal with this appalling statement and has been advised to not speak to the press at this present time.

“In my opinion the meeting has been postponed or cancelled because of the legal letter from Councillor Tippins’ solicitor and I think this whole meeting is part of a disgusting bullying harassment campaign against her. She is by far the best councillor on the council and should be mayor.

“The town clerk and the nine councillors who have organised this kangaroo court should be totally ashamed of themselves.”

In response to the meeting being postponed, a statement from the mayor of Shaftesbury Tim Cook said: “The motion of no confidence is a serious matter that requires serious debate.

“It is unfortunate to receive communication so late in the day but it is right that we give it due consideration before debating the motion. That means we had to postpone the meeting.”

Should the meeting go ahead, there is no legal enforcement that Cllr Tippins must resign.

  • This story is part of the Journal's new publication, the Vale Journal, which covers Shaftesbury, Gillingham, and the wider Blackmore Vale. Got a story for us? Email or find us on Facebook: