Claims of bullying by councillors, of both staff and other councillors, have been detailed in a Memorandum of Legal Advice.
But Armidale Regional Council last week voted to do nothing about the memorandum, dated February 19, which warned the use of aggressive, abusive and intimidating correspondence placed it in danger of breaching the Work Health and Safety Act.
The report highlighted several concerning emails by three councillors: Dorothy Robinson, Margaret O'Connor and Debra O'Brien.
Advice to February's meeting by Senior Counsel Chris Ronalds from Sydney also suggested the councillors may have breached their Code of Conduct.
Emails from the three councillors as far back as September 2018 were taken into consideration by Ms Ronalds in forming her conclusions.
"It is my view that email communications from Councillors Robinson and O'Connor give rise to a risk to the physical and psychological health and safety of council staff and councillors," her advice read.
"It is my view that if council does not take reasonably practicable steps or measures to eliminate or minimise the risk, it will be in breach of section 19 of the WHS ACT."
The report was presented as part of Item 19.4 in a closed session last Wednesday.
Mayor Simon Murray confirmed meeting minutes would show council had resolved to note the report, and do nothing.
"There was a division taken on that and it was a six/four result," he said.
"This should be of high concern to council particularly because of the high level of advice.
"To me that should have been discussed by the council, and there should have been some sort of progress forward."
Cr Robinson said she would have to take legal advice before making any comment and Cr O'Brien said she could not comment on a closed council matter because doing so would breach the Councillors Code of Conduct. Cr O'Connor did not respond to the request by The Armidale Express for an interview.
Between April 30 and August 28 last year, the two councillors sent a combined total of 47 emails to Council's CEO Susan Law, Cr Murray and council staff, in addition to phone calls with staff, council meetings and general interactions.
Ms Ronalds concluded certain emails by Crs Robinson and O'Connor to fellow councillors and staff were belittling, interrogative or otherwise aggressive.
"I am instructed that in one instance an individual experienced a physical reaction on receiving correspondence from one of these three councillors," her report read.
"It is highly likely that some of the email communications from Cr Robinson and O'Connor constitute breaches of the Councillor's Code of Conduct."
Mrs Law referred some emails from Cr O'Connor to a conduct reviewer for assessment and determination on March 8, 2019. The reviewer determined to investigate on April 5, 2019.
Ms Ronalds' report delivered a warning to council, and methodically outlined options to remedy the situation, from actions by council itself up to and including those available to the Minister.
Council has previously acted on Ms Ronalds' advice.
In April 2019, when concerns were held that some emails sent to various councillors could be a breach of the code of conduct; and again a couple of months later.
Council sought legal advice from Senior Counsel's instructing solicitors on whether councillors Robinson and O'Connor were prevented from sitting on the performance review panel for council's CEO Susan Law.
Ms Ronalds concluded the two should not sit on Mrs Law's performance panel, because it, "might reasonably result in a failure to afford Ms Law natural justice by reason of an apprehension of bias".
She said council refused to disclose the June 2019 advice to councillors following further advice from the Senior Counsel's instructing solicitor.
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