Councillor apologises for pushing man at tip

A veteran councillor is facing claims she bought her office into disrepute after pushing a worker at a waste tip into a wall after being told she couldn't throw away spare election leaflets.

CCTV footage was shown to Coun Mary-Rose Hardy, a former chairman of East Riding Council, who admitted her behaviour was unacceptable.

The incident happened last March when the Liberal Democrat councillor for Tranby was trying to dispose of over 1,000 leaflets at the Humberfield household waste recycling site, on Ferriby High Road, Hessle.

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According to a council report, Gareth Southwell, who works at the site, said he noticed two stacks of Anlaby Common election leaflets in her boot.

When he told her she couldn’t tip them as they weren’t household waste, she grabbed him and pushed him backwards into a wall. Mr Southwell claimed Coun Hardy was “irate” because she had to wait in a queue to get into the site, which had been closed for health and safety reasons.

“I was the unlucky one who approached her,” he said.

He alleged that when he approached her about the “business” waste, she swore it him.

Mr Southwell said he had never been grabbed before in his seven years at the site: “She was ranting and raving.

“She grabbed my arms and pushed me backwards into the wall.

“There was force but she is an older lady and not strong.”

When Coun Hardy was shown the CCTV footage she said: “Gosh I did push him a long way.

“That’s a long way...that was excessive and I apologise for that.”

In interview she confirmed her blood pressure was up and “when you see somebody in your boot that’s not a nice feeling.”

Coun Hardy, who has been an East Riding councillor since 1995, apologised in a letter to a council officer about her part “in the contretemps” last August.

But she denies “kicking off” in the queue or swearing at Mr Southwell.

She said in the letter that she felt she was being bullied: “For one (or was it two) males to be rooting through the boot of my car, which I had parked well away from them, and rough handling the contents was very disturbing.”

The CCTV footage will be played at a standards committee hearing next Friday which will decide what sanctions, if any, she will face. The committee, which includes councillors and an independent member, can only make a recommendation and that will then go to full council.

The report by the council’s senior legal officer says Coun Hardy’s shock at her actions “does not excuse her behaviour.”

Mr Southwell was not injured. It concluded that she “conducted herself in a manner that could reasonably be regarded as bringing her office or authority into disrepute.”

It said: “She was frustrated that she had to wait...and this led to a state of heightened emotion when she was finally allowed access. All of this culminated in unnecessary physical contact.

“She accepts that Mr Southwell would have been aware of her identity and the fact that she was an East Riding councillor given this was clearly displayed on the election material that she was seeking to dispose of, yet despite that she still acted in a way that was unacceptable.”

Coun Hardy said she had little to add to the report.