Heaton Councillor Tele Lawal today writes in the Havering Daily.
On Wednesday, 25 September, Harold Wood Councillor Martin Goode, physically and verbally assaulted me at Havering Town Hall in front of Councillors and staff. Many stood by and watched, including the Leader of Havering Council, Damian White.
Councillor Martin Goode viciously grabbed and pulled my arm – and demanded I listen to him – as I walked away from a hostile environment. My perpetrator went on to follow me and invade my personal space by shouting and raising his hands. He ignored me when I said, “Martin, leave me alone, or I will make a formal complaint.”
Let me be very clear, Councillor Martin Goode attacked me because I am a woman who bruised his ego, and he can only result in violence, as he is unable to express himself through meaningful words. I do not believe that Councillor Martin Goode would have belittled and intimidated me if I was a man, who was strong, big and tall like him.
My message to Councillor Martin Goode is I am no victim and I have reported your conduct to the police and Havering Council. However, I have very little faith in the London Borough of Havering dealing with this situation correctly, as there is a culture of bullying and harassment in the Town Hall – which has never been addressed.
Following the sexual harassment allegations made by a former Councillor, Linda Trew against Councillor Melvin Wallace – I raised concerns to the Chief Executive, Andrew Blake-Herbert of my own sexual harassment experiences at the Town Hall, and the view that there is no support for Councillors at Havering Council.
Recommendations were proposed, and yet nothing has been implemented by the leadership at the Town Hall, and the abuse has worsened. I have since contacted the Leader of Havering Council, Damian White, and the Chief Executive, about the latest incident and suggested changes to our policies/procedures which will enforce a healthier and safer working environment for all Councillors – I have had no response.
In my correspondence to them both, I stated that I used to work in financial services, and if I had brought forward an allegation as the above, I would have received the proper support. I do understand that Councillors are not employees of the council and do not have the same benefits/protection under employment legislation – however, they should be offered some sort of support during difficult times – as recommended by the Local Government Association (LGA).
The LGA are the national voice of local government, and they have recently brought out recommendations on how Councils, like Havering, can support their politicians who are facing intimidation. I have shared this with the Leader Councillor Damian White and the Chief Executive, Andrew Blake-Herbert, I am urging them to consider and implement, as they cannot continue to close their eyes to the inappropriate behaviour at the Town Hall.
I hope that the Leader of Havering Council and others who witnessed Councillor Martin Goode’s conduct will assist the police and the Council with their investigation. By doing so, you send a strong message to females across the Borough, that their politicians in Havering, do not condone violence against any women and girls.