GMB union call for Thanet council to overhaul way of dealing with bullying complaints against top officers

Thanet council

The GMB union is calling on Thanet council to implement a new, independent system for dealing with bullying and harassment complaints against senior officers, saying the current methods are ‘compromised beyond further use.’

The call comes in the wake of two grievance complaints filed by TDC staff against top officers during the past six months.

GMB, the union for staff in local government, is asking councillors to replace the current system with a new independent one so that senior officers are held properly accountable when complaints of bullying and harassment are made against them. They say any new system has to be fair for the staff making the complaints but also for the senior staff involved as well as protecting the integrity and good running of Thanet council.


Frank Macklin, GMB Regional Organiser said: “GMB is making this call based on our practical experience of the current system in operation for two GMB members who filed complaints over the past six months. GMB is more than happy to meet with senior elected members in closed sessions to share with them this experience.

“I am confident that they, like GMB, will conclude that the current system of dealing with bullying and harassment complaints against senior officers has been compromised beyond any further use.

“Not recognising this and not replacing it will undermine and threaten the good running and integrity of the council. GMB has experience of new independent systems in other councils for dealing with bullying and harassment complaints against senior officers that are much better.

“GMB is calling on the elected members of Thanet council to adopt a new independent system answerable to elected members to ensure the good running and the integrity of the council.”

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “In dealing with these matters the council follows an agreed formal process. That process protects the rights to a fair hearing for both those bringing the grievance and those who are subject to the complaint.

“Public comments on the matter could either prejudice the process or potentially influence the outcome.”


The appeal follows the grievances by two officers. One of those complainants named both chief executive Madeline Homer and Director of Operational Services Gavin Waite in a list of 10 grievances.

The officer has lodged an appeal over the way his grievance was dealt with, including being unable to see an independent investigator’s report, having the case handled by a current TDC top officer, and no formal action being taken despite one grievance of bullying and harassment being partly upheld, one of a breakdown of working relationship being upheld, and  one of suffering work-related stress due to the situation being upheld.


The appeal was submitted to Deputy Chief Executive Tim Willis, who had not been involved in the grievance, but he was suspended from his role last month.

Mr Willis was responsible for overseeing the Housing and Planning service, Communications and Digital, Finance and Procurement and leads digital transformation across the council’s services.

The reason for his suspension has not been confirmed by Thanet council but has caused an uproar with many councillors and local groups demanding his reinstatement. Ramsgate councillor Karen Constantine was reported to the authority’s Standards Committee by chief executive Madeline Homer after commenting on the need for transparency in staffing matters following the suspension.

Cllr Constantine said: “Whilst it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any specific employment issue at TDC, I would like our council and all other councils to aspire to be exemplary employers -putting the health and well-being of all staff first.

“That would include having a robust policy on bullying. Bullying significantly blights peoples lives and all good employers should be taking robust steps to eliminate harassment of this type.

“As I said before, Thanet District Council needs an overarching ‘employment matters’, Committee. This would give councillors an overview of the employment issues in our council at a strategic level.

“I was disappointed to then be bullied for taking that common sense stance by being threatened to withdraw my comment or I would be referred to standards. As I haven’t yet been referred to Standards committee I have written again to our chief executive seeking an apology. I haven’t had a response yet.

“The GMB are right to air this issue in public.”

Mr Willis has been with the authority since 2015. A petition was launched yesterday demanding he is put back in post.

The GMB has said the suspension is concerning and has called for clarity of the situation.


  1. Since a report by the auditors in 2002 nothing here has changed
    councilors and officers are bullies I have seen it first hand at planning meetings
    The standards committee complained and then they walked out also
    The public cannot allow bullies to run the council
    The chief and her bit on the side need to resign their posts and for Tim Willis to be reinstated,
    Sack the chief and her bit on the side which I not yet seen to not declare they are having an affair and if so why not and if yes then too much conflict of interest so one or the other has to go b
    Planning department officers need to go

  2. ‘councillors guilty of crimes’, bit strong as no current councillor l has been found ‘guilty’ of any crime or charged so assume you have handed over your evidence to Kent Police for the others you accuse.

    • I have sent evidence to other agencies and await their response.
      More will be sent soon enough. Truth is out now.
      This council bullies even members of the public

  3. How can you have in place a chief exec and director of operational services still holding positions when clearly they are in a romantic relationship and have the power to conspire about who they hire and fire. There’s a little click of highly paid officers who have each other’s backs and so collude when others question their actions. Poor Tim Willis is being perversely pushed out. There should now be an absolute consensus across all parties and all cllrs to stamp this out. Nobody should be treated this way and those high ranking officers who are in allegiance with each other to get rid of a decent colleague should hang their head in shame. Utter shameful behaviour, which must not be tolerated by the councillors.

    • Jay the councilors more than likely kicked him out as they are the ones who are the decision makes the officers are there to give advice to the council and the councilors who represent this town. People vote for them remember Jay. Election coming up …

      • Rebecca, no way was it the councillors who suspended Tim Willis. He is one of the best officers at TDC and councillors want him reinstated ASAP.

        • show me then that the councilors want Tim Willis back
          because so far I have seen nothing to suggest that
          I have seen councilors covering their own arses mind you
          Tell me why his name is written all over a document that the section 151 officer has a duty to stop and report and whistleblow
          I have already been in touch with the CIPFA who the council officer belongs to, was he bribed by councilor who made that decision to put the non payment of rent and council tax to Sands Heritage Ltd and write £176k off and then in comes arrowgrass/HF Fund services ltd an offshore leaks company …it has all gone to other agencies!
          Why is this council hell bent on dealing with offshore leaks companies I will make sure the truth is out!
          Not just with dreamland
          Ramsgate Seafront
          Planning applications
          list is endless and yes I have proof

    • It’s came out yesterday that the chief executive was and is having a relationship with the director of corporate services
      Shame on the councilors for not whistle blowing.
      The section 151 officer questioned them about non disclosure of the relationship and the other two kicked him out of office.
      Shame on councillors for not speaking out
      Oops one did and is being held like she has done something wrong about truth speaking.

  4. Anyone found guilty of bullying should automatically be dismissed. No ifs or buts. Councillors need to have more power to do this. These are people being paid with public money. Staff should not be subjected to this behaviour in public service.

  5. Thanet council do not care about their tenants or anyone that questions there authority. I have sent numerous emails asking for information that they hold and they refuse it point Blank. Even sent emails to the councillors that sit on the forum but still no replies. Where I live in a block of flats they have posters all the way up the block saying lob it and lose it. recently I was hit by a broom that was thrown from the tower block. I sent evidence of the Broom and where it come from and all I got from them was sorry there’s nothing we can do about it no action to be taken few days after that bamboo fencing was thrown down. It will have to take someone to be seriously injured or maybe killed by these objects being thrown from the tower blocks

  6. There is Standards complaint against Cllr Constantine. It will be interesting if it is covered up by the corporate management team …..

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