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More than £150,000 being spent on consultants brought to rid Cheshire East Council of bullying will not solve the problem, the Labour group leader insists.

A report from the Local Government Association (LGA), commissioned by Cheshire East, found that almost a quarter of council staff were aware of workplace bullying in the second half of 2017.

The council hired consultancy firm Sticky Change to support its ‘brighter future together’ transformation programme.

It is running workshops to help improve the council’s tone and culture, as recommended by the LGA.

But Cllr Sam Corcoran believes the programme isn’t aimed at the main culprits of bullying.

He said: “I supported the LGA review but I was aghast to see we were spending £152,460 on Sticky Change.

“It seems we are paying money in order not to solve the problem.

“The problem with the bullying, and this is from the LGA report, is that it was done by those in positions of power.

“But what CEC is doing seems to be targeted at the workers.

“That’s not where the problem is, the problem is with people in positions of power – both officers and members.

“I don’t see that issue being addressed.”

Cllr Corcoran also believes the unions are being kept out of the culture change process, despite their “huge experience in dealing with this sort of problem”.

Kath O’Dwyer, acting chief executive at Cheshire East, insists all employees and councillors are being given the chance to take part in the programme.

It includes establishing a set of workplace behaviours, agreeing a cultural contract between the council and its staff called the “employee deal”, and a host of reviews to HR policy.

“The culture review, which we commissioned from the LGA, showed that there were pockets of unacceptable behaviour and our cultural transformation seeks to address that,” said Ms O’Dwyer.

“Bullying and harassment are not acceptable and we will do everything we can to eradicate these behaviours from our organisation.

“Staff and members at all levels in the organisation, from senior managers and cabinet members to frontline staff and ward members, are involved in, and central to the programme.

“We also recognise that the trade unions, which represent a proportion of employees, have a role to play in helping us to develop the right workplace culture.

“Therefore we are asking them, at all stages, to contribute and inform the ongoing work.”

Ms O’Dwyer added that all staff and elected members are being invited to have their say about what CEC’s workplace culture should be – with more than 1,000 contributions already received.

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