A COUNCILLOR has said he has never experienced homophobic behaviour as bad as he has at Maldon District Council.

Richard Siddall quit the Conservative group last week after fellow councillors voted against the Joint Standards sanctions for former leader Adrian Fluker.

Mr Fluker was suspended from sitting on council committees and working parties for 12 months.

Some Conservatives on the council had tried to reduce the length of the suspension.

The suspension follows a complaint from Mr Siddall against Mr Fluker after he made a ‘throat-slit gesture’ and said ‘Hello Sailor’ to him.

Maldon District Council’s Joint Standards Committee found that Mr Fluker breached the code of conduct.

In his official complaint, Mr Siddall said Mr Fluker had subjected him to bullying, intimidation and homophobic behaviour over a sustained period.

Mr Siddall said: “I have been out as a gay man since my 20s but I have never in my life experience anything like this behaviour.

“I have been lucky – everybody I have ever come into contact with has respected it.

“When the complaint process started I sent Mr Fluker an email saying we should try and work together and should have a one to one discussion, but he never replied

“And throughout the whole investigation he hasn’t replied.”

Mr Siddall has now joined the Independent group on the council.

He said: “I was getting feedback from the Conservatives saying I was doing the right think and that they would support me and it needed to happen, then over the past couple of months that seemed to have changed.

“I really did not feel that I was getting the support and understanding from the new leader Elaine Bamford and I wasn’t happy in terms of how things were moving forward.

“I am concerned the Conservative group are more concerned about doing what’s right for the council’s reputation rather than what’s right for the council

“I am hoping that the council is a whole council moving forward.

“During the last couple of months when I have gone through this quite stressful time the independents have given me more support than the Conservative councillors.

“For certain councillors to bring forward a motion to make the sanctions more lenient in itself is not good.

“For the new delegated leader to say it’s too harsh to me is incomprehensible. All I want to do now is get on with it and help the residents and do things for them and make sure the council is run smoothly.”