INTERRUPTIONS, arguments, cursing and a rude hand gesture made up the latest Shaftesbury Town Council meeting, which ended with a majority vote of no confidence in Councillor Karen Tippins.

As previously reported, calls had been made by members of the authority for Cllr Tippins to resign, following her actions and behaviour since she was elected in December last year.

This resulted in a full town council meeting on Tuesday night, held via Zoom, to discuss the motion and hear points raised by both councillors and members of the public on the matter.

Cllr Tippins provided a statement near the beginning of the motion, which was a combination of both her views and a letter from her solicitor, describing the proposal as “nothing short of bullying and an attempt to undermine [her] role in as blunt a manner as possible”.

She said that during her time on the council, she was “actively prevented from accessing a range of information which should be rightly available to councillors”, and she was “excluded from sitting on committees”.

The solicitor’s letter added: “The town council is acting inappropriately and [in an] ultra vires manner towards Cllr Tippins in a number of different levels.”

In response to an incident when police were called to remove Cllrs Tippins and Peter Yeo from a meeting, Cllr Tippins said: “To actually have the police called out to arrest me when I should have been at the meeting is a complete scandal.”

A similar view was earlier aired by Cllr Yeo, supporter of Cllr Tippins, which resulted in him calling out “Bull***t”.

This was in response to Shaftesbury mayor and chairman Tim Cook, who said that calling the police in this instance was not wasting the service’s time or resources.

When asked to retract the word, Cllr Yeo replied: “It’s actually true, I and Cllr Tippins had 999 called upon us, which wasted everyone’s time and was a false allegation.”

Later in the meeting Cllr Yeo had his video and audio disabled after talking over other councillors and performing a rude hand gesture.

Before being muted by the clerk he called out: “How dare you, this is democracy, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Cllr Hollingshead, who had put forward the ‘No Confidence’ motion, said: “As well as having complaints made against her from her first day on this council, on the very day she signed the councillors’ code of conduct, Cllr Tippins has disrupted council meetings, harassed and intimidated other councillors, made false statements on social media and made unfounded complaints.”

Cllr Alex Chase, who seconded the motion, added that to suggest Cllr Tippins was being bullied by the council was “categorically not true”, adding: “We have lost confidence in Cllr Tippins over her words, her actions and her attitude towards the council, its officers, its members and this town.”

More interruptions later came when Cllr Tippins accused Cllr Piers Brown of “making up” parts of the case law she spoke of during her statement in his own comments.

Of the ten councillors present, the meeting ended with seven votes in support of the motion and two against.

Cllr Cook abstained from the vote to enforce impartiality and balance as chairman, despite showing support of the motion in the agenda.

Despite the vote of no confidence however, there is no legal enforcement that Cllr Tippins must resign.

When it came to the vote, Cllr Yeo described the meeting as a “part of a sustained bullying, harassment and smear campaign”, adding: “The reason you all hate [Cllr Tippins] is because she is an excellent councillor, better than all of you put together.

“She knows how this town council should be run, and when she starts asking questions you quite simply don’t like it.

"[This meeting is] utterly disgraceful, irrelevant, with no legal basis and a waste of time.”

  • 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.