A pledge aimed at ending bullying and bad behaviour has been adopted after a survey revealed that there is an ‘obvious bullying problem’ at Bracknell Forest Council.

The anti-bullying pledge was put forward as a motion by the current borough mayor councillor Ash Merry (Conservative, Harmans Water) called the Mayor’s Charter.

The motion called on councillors to observe the seven principles of public life (the Nolan Principles): selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.

It also encouraged councillors to tolerate other points of view, promote  and defend the dignity of others, not enage in bullying, harassment or discriminatory behaviour, and challenge unacceptable behaviour whenever it occurs, with any conduct falling short of this being dealt with under the Council’s Standards and Code of Conduct processes.

READ MORE: 'Obvious problem' of bullying at council after report reveals 'bad behaviour' issue

The motion follows a Pulse opinion survey which cost the council £3,630, finding that 93 per cent of councillors and 87 per cent of the officers who took part had either experienced or witnessed bullying.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Merry said: “Being an elected local councillor is an honour which also bears huge responsibilities.

“We should always be mindful that we need to set high standards.

“Politics and local government quite rightly follow strict protocol and involves difficult and often complex tough decisions to be taken.

“Members won’t always agree, but we should always feel able to state our own views openly, and also respectfully listen to alternative opinions and give them due consideration.

“The Mayor’s Charter reminds us that upholding standards of behaviour and respect for others is everyone’s responsibility.”

She added that the charter would enable councillors to work to their best abilities secure in the knowledge that their contributions are valued.

Supporting the motion, cllr Mary Temperton (Labour, Great Hollands North) said: “I am very pleased to have been invited to second this motion as it truly needs to be adopted by all, whatever our political allegiance.

“All councillors have already signed up to the Nolan Principles and to the Code of Conduct but the Members Pulse survey the council commissioned, clearly identified that more needs to be done – there is a need for change.

“93 per cent of the members and 87 per cent of the officers who took part had either experienced or witnessed bullying.

“This was said to be by a minority of members but has a notable impact on the wellbeing, ability to perform and morale of both members and officers.

“Moreover, it was felt that the bullying behaviour is not sufficiently addressed.

“I have spent my whole working life in education and if bullying on this scale was experienced and not addressed, then the school would be failing.

“Bullying is not banter. It is deliberate, targetted, and repeated. Behaviour that intentionally makes the victim feel humiliated, or intimidated.

“The mayor has proposed this Charter to try to resolve these issues – to prevent the poor behaviour -and to make this council a better place for all.”

She added that, in order for the charter to work, councillors would have to have the courage to ‘call out behaviour’ when it happens.

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Cllr Temperton continued: “More councillors may feel able to contribute to debates if the fear of intimidation or belittling is removed.

“This Charter is a very positive step forward. It recognises this council needs to change and its adoption could well be the trigger that makes this happen.”

Cllr Merry added: “Let’s look upwards and outwards rather than downwards and inwards as perhaps we have done in the past.

“We have a huge opportunity here now, so let’s take it.”

All 40 councillors present voted to adopt the charter at the full council meeting yesterday (Wednesday, January 12).

In a response to the Pulse survey last November, the council’s chief executive Timothy Wheadon said that cases of bullying or overly aggressive behaviour “is very limited” but any reports of such behaviour would be investigated.

Last year, former Bracknell Forest councillor Malcolm Tullett said work culture issues played a part in his resignation from the council.