Chard – who it is not – Part 2

Following on from our report last week, The Leveller has now completed its investigation into Chard Town Council. To recap, a report commissioned Chris Rolley, a local authority expert to look at the culture at the council. His report identified a toxic culture. It gives examples of aggressive behaviour and poor practise (losing or not keeping records of exit interviews for instance). It noted that three reports over three years had been prepared looking into that culture. Despite recommendations and further costs to taxpayers, nothing appeared to have changed.

Some have tried to make this into a political issue. It would be very convenient to do so, but that does not add up. The facts are these:

  • Independent councillor Dave Bulmer has called for names to be named
  • The Greens have said that if any of their members were responsible they would stand down
  • LibDem Martin Carnell was responsible for commissioning the report.

Calling this a political issue is frankly wishful thinking. And unhelpful.

Mr Rolley himself noted that three councillors appeared to be the root cause of the toxic culture. He noted that they were named frequently in the interviews he conducted with staff and former staff for his report. However the councillors were not named in his report.

The new Chair of Chard Town Council, Cllr Gary Shortland has contacted Mr Rolley to identify the three councillors. Having done so he went on to inform the three councillors that they were the ones Mr Rolley identified. However the council received legal advice that it could not name those councillors. Faced with that legal advice, Cllr Shortland quite correctly could not name the councillors he had spoken to. All that information was all divulged at the Town Council meeting of 13 June.

As a result The Leveller undertook a forensic investigation of our own. Using Mr Rolley’s report and a variety of other evidence we have identified those not responsible for the toxic environment at the council. We reported on our initial findings last week.

Bear in mind that there are 15 town councillors sitting for Chard Town Council. The following are not the councillors implicated by Mr Rolley’s report as being responsible for the toxic culture at the council:

  • Gary Shortland
  • Claire Brown
  • Victoria Bate
  • Claire Richter
  • Dave Bulmer
  • Tim Eggins
  • Natasha Watson
  • Jason Hawkes (Cllr Hawkes has since resigned as he is moving out of the area)
  • Banah Crook
  • Andrew Grief-Page
  • Zak Williams
  • Shakil Hassan


  • Thanks for those 12 names 😁, 3 short of 15,
    I love your approach

  • Well that’s one way of getting around the rules of disclosing who!

  • Pauline Laughton

    So now we KNOW!
    Well done The Leveller!!

  • It seems those with extended roles beyond the town council, appear to see themselves as far more important, which makes them think they can bully other staff without the respect they deserve, shame on them and shame on the local party HQ for not dealing with these bullies, GET THEM OUT!
    Well done Leveller 🕵️👏🏻

  • mr kevin j cahill

    Brilliant work Andrew. Kevin Cahilll

  • The so-called Rolley Report was essentially a report into people’s feelings. Those feelings may be valid, but the report essentially concludes that a number of people have failed to get along with each other. What the RR is not is proof of facts.

    Furthermore, as far as I know, to date all of the formal complaints against the 3 you skilfully identify have now been thrown out by the Monitoring Officer at Somerset Council.

    Why, I hear you ask.

    No evidence.

    You could report on that too.

    • We’ll that all depends on what the formula “as far as I know” means.
      Have you read the report or not?
      You say there is no evidence of bullying in the MOs report? So I guess that must mean you have read it?

    • Oliver…we know WHY as a Lib Dem you say this seem to be in the minority on this page!
      If you had read the report you would see how there IS clear evidence!
      The people of Chard KNOW who…the next by election will prove this !
      We in chard as residents have
      Zero tolerance to Bullying!

  • If councillors cost Chard people £175,000 through bullying, then there is a clear public interest in knowing who they are so their appalling behaviour can be stopped.

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