A COUNCILLOR found to have bullied a colleague says he will not resign after a petition calling for him to step down reached its target number.

Councillor Richard Price was condemned at a meeting of Crowthorne Parish Council last week where he received a formal censure from his peers for bullying clerk Melanie Saville.

But the meeting was marred by controversy when Cllr Price interjected to complain of his agreed punishments before accusing Ms Saville of telling ‘lies’ about an accusation she had made against the councillor.

This incident prompted an immediate backlash from a number of Crowthorne parish councillors, who slammed Cllr Price for his ‘totally inappropriate behaviour’.

Ms Saville, who was clerking the meeting, appeared to wipe away tears following the remarks and told colleagues she was ‘very, very upset.’

Bracknell News:

And the following day Cllr Price was the subject of a petition set up by resident Jonathan Monger calling for him to resign his position.

READ MORE: Councillor Price 'bullied' colleague, conduct panel finds

The petition read: “Councillor Richard Price was found guilty of bullying at a code of conduct panel.

“Parish councillors can not be removed from office but we can demand his resignation and hope that he can see sense.”

The petition reached its initial target of 100 signatures days after going live and has now amassed 155 in total.

This is more people than the number that elected Cllr Price to his Crowthorne South seat in May 2019. 

The News contacted Cllr Price for his response to the petition.

He said: “I’ve no intention of resigning.

“Anybody can raise a petition at any time.

“The majority of them [signatories] aren’t in this area.

“It will have no bearing at all.”

READ MORE: Bracknell Conservative boss responds to bullying councillor verdict

Asked if it bothered him that the petition has attracted more than 100 signatures, he said: “no, not at all.”

The history

Councillor Price, who has served on Crowthorne Parish Council since 1988, was found to have breached the council’s code of conduct after a Bracknell Forest behaviour panel agreed in January 2021 he had bullied Ms Saville on six occasions in 2020.

The panel handed him a number of sanctions as a result of his bullying and harassing behaviour, which included a ‘verbal attack’ at Crowthorne Market in which Cllr Price ‘shouted’ and ‘gestured angrily’ at Ms Saville, leaving her ‘shaken’ and ‘in tears'.

These punishments included stripping him of his title as finance champion at Crowthorne Parish Council, anti-bullying training and monitoring of his behaviour.

READ MORE: Crowthorne clerk upset following outburst from Councillor Price

Other offences included an incident where Cllr Price ‘slammed his clenched fist’ on to a table Ms Saville was sitting after he ‘became angry’ about a financial issue and email allegations from Cllr Price which ‘undermined’ Ms Saville’s work.

His punishments were formally implemented at a special meeting of the parish council last week, where Conservative Cllr Price accused Ms Saville of lying about allegations he left her out of important council financial discussions.

Responding to this claim, Ms Saville said: “She said: “I would like to say that I don’t accept what has just been said by Cllr Price.

“The hearing has taken place, the findings are what the council is putting in place today via this censure, and to have allegations of lying voiced at a public meeting, that haven’t been spoken about or alleged at a public hearing of the panel… I’m very, very upset.

“This undermines the process I have been through so far to get to this point.”

Readers can view the petition here:

Why can't Cllr Price be sacked?

Although a number of sanctions were imposed on the Crowthorne councillor, the borough council had no power to relieve him of his elected role. 

This is because changes brought in in 2011 by the Legalism Act made it impossible for local authorities to suspend elected members who have breached their code of conduct.