Councillor resigns after ‘stupid old cow’ row with grandmother

Cllr Geoffrey Evans. Picture: Tony Bartholomew
Cllr Geoffrey Evans. Picture: Tony Bartholomew
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A COUNCILLOR who told a grandmother she was a “stupid old cow” during a phone conversation has resigned.

Geoff Evans hurled the insult at 72-year-old Margaret Lister when she rang him to query her council tax bill and challenged him about why he didn’t have the answer.

Margaret Lister. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Margaret Lister. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

He was subsequently ordered to apologise by Scarborough Council’s standards committee but refused to do so, insisting that Mrs Lister should say sorry to him first.

Now it has emerged that Mr Evans sent his resignation to Scarborough Town Hall on Thursday, the same day as details of his behaviour were reported in the Yorkshire Post.

The 65-year-old, who won Scarborough’s Eastfield seat in 2007, said yesterday: “I have nothing to say. I do not like the way I have been represented and will be seeking legal opinion.”

Confirmation of the resignation was greeted with delight by Mrs Lister.

She said: “Hooray. That’s brilliant. It’s made my day. I never expected him to do it and it is the best news I’ve had since it all happened. I did not ask for it to go this far. But what has to be has to be. All he had to do was give me an apology – I hope it’s in the post.”

Mr Evans’s details had yesterday already been deleted from the council website.

The authority has refused to discuss the reasons for his resignation. However, its standards committee chairman, Councillor Norman Murphy, said: “He has done the right thing and about time.

“It was an appalling way to treat any member of the public, let alone a grandmother of 72. He has also treated the standards committee members with equal contempt.”

The standards committee ruled in June that if no apology was forthcoming to Mrs Lister from Mr Evans, then it would go public with details of the saga.

Earlier this week, Coun Murphy said: “Councillors are elected to represent the best interests of their local communities and sometimes that can include handling complaints or difficult situations. However, no matter how awkward a conversation may become, councillors are expected to uphold the high standards expected of someone in public office and the use of offensive language of any kind is not acceptable.

“We had hoped that Coun Evans would have accepted our decision to apologise to Mrs Lister but as of the time of issuing our media release, Mrs Lister has not yet received an apology.”

Mrs Lister, from Eastfield, originally rang Mr Evans to ask why an item on her council tax bill had gone up.

During the conversation, she said: “You don’t know and you’re a councillor?”

“He raised his voice and said ‘You’re a stupid old cow you’ and slammed the phone down on me,” said Mrs Lister. “I stood there with the phone in my hand. I looked at it for a few minutes and thought, ‘I don’t believe this’. I had been really nice to him.”

Mrs Lister lodged a complaint with the council, which was looked into by its solicitor Mark Robinson.

During the investigation, a meeting was held at Scarborough Town Hall between Mr Evans and Mr Robinson which was also attended by a young girl on work experience. It ended with Mr Evans storming out after angrily branding the complaint against him as “rubbish and lies”.

Mr Robinson later told the standards committee: “Coun Evans said he would not co-operate and I could ‘put that in my report’. He said the way he was currently being treated by the council was a disgrace and he would have been better treated if he had broken into Mrs Lister’s house and robbed her.”

Talking about his ill-fated phone conversation with Mrs Lister, Mr Evans has said: “She got personal about me and that’s what led to the response.”

He added: “Mrs Lister was wrong in what she said and if she had said sorry first I would have apologised straight away.”

Scarborough Council bosses have issued a set of new politeness guidelines to staff following the incident – including a reminder that people should not be subjected to mockery because of their age.