Alresford town councillor resigns over bullying allegation

Basingstoke Gazette: Resigned: Natalie Carpenter Resigned: Natalie Carpenter

AN Alresford town councillor has resigned, saying her position has been made impossible following bullying complaints against her.

Natalie Carpenter has raised concerns about alleged fraud involving gaming machines at Alresford recreation Centre which have been raised at meetings of the town council in recent months.

But she was accused of bullying the town council staff, an allegation she denies.

Mrs Carpenter had raised concerns about cash handling to auditors BDO and it has called on the council to tighten its procedures at the ARC.

As a result the council has agreed to appoint Meridian Leisure Services as its new games machine supplier from March 1.

Mrs Carpenter, of Grange Road, said: “I have felt unhappy about certain things at the council which came to light last April. It’s public money and our duty to make sure everything is correct.”

She said complaints were made about her bullying when she raised concerns over the machines at a meeting. But they have never been followed up.

“They were not followed up with anything, like an investigation. I feel I can’t function as a councillor in case I’m accused of further bullying.”

She said she was sad to have been forced out. “My family goes back hundreds of years in Alresford. I stood as a local councillor because this is my family town. I have been forced out of it by people who don’t have the same feeling that I do about it.”

Mrs Carpenter said that too much power was resting in the hands of too few councillors on the town council.

She called for an independent investigation into the games machines.

Town council chairman Lisa Griffiths said: “I do not think we have pushed her out. We always seemed to be at odds. What she wanted was always different from the rest of us.

“No allegation of bullying was ever made formally. There was a falling out, things got heated at a meeting and a member of staff was unhappy about the way she was spoken to.”

But Cllr Griffiths added she was sorry to see Mrs Carpenter resign: “It is a shame. She had strong principles and stood up for what she thought. She would not go with the flow, she would question things. It is a shame to have lost that.”

And she denied that she and other councillors such as Roy Gentry and Margot Power have too much power.

All three are on an executive committee of councillors who chair sub-committees that have spending powers.

Mrs Carpenter will remain a trustee of Alresford Town Trust. Its chairman Robin Atkins said: “She is an extremely hard-working and very useful and we are glad she is carrying on with the town trust.”

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