MONTHS of infighting at Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council ended in a victory for ‘girl power’ on Monday night.

Only women members of the council were present at the annual meeting to unanimously re-elect Jane Ives as chairman – only after she revealed she had thought long and hard about putting herself forward again.

Jeanette Kirby was re-elected as vice-chairman and Eddie Trotter as chairman of the recreation committee, while Don Jerrard and Barbara Easton are no longer spearheading the planning committee and Michael Croucher failed to win a place on the finance and policy committee.

Mrs Ives was nominated for the chairmanship by new councillor Jessica Taplin, who praised her ‘integrity, professionalism, neutrality and ability to engage with the community’.

Members of the public, who applauded Mrs Ives’s re-election, were told a code of conduct complaint of bullying, harassment and intimidation made against her, Mrs Kirby and Emma Winfield by Mr Jerrard had been dismissed by East Hampshire District Council’s monitoring office, after being fully investigated by the district council’s monitoring team, but “brought considerable distress to all three councillors”.

In a statement, Mrs Ives said: “The last eight months have been incredibly difficult for me personally as I have tried to lead the council through firstly some major staff and councillor changes, but also some incredibly difficult situations.

“We now have a very strong, committed and experienced team of staff who I feel deserve our thanks and respect for their dedication during a difficult period, and we are not out of the woods yet by any means. 

“When we are elected as parish councillors we may have pre-determined opinions about certain subjects.

“But we must all acknowledge that in a democratic council, which I hope this is, we can put forward our opinions, we can argue our point, but at the end of the day everything is subject to a vote.

“What shouldn’t happen is for these personal opinions to be brought forward at a meeting where there is no agenda item for discussion and use this as an opportunity to pursue personal agendas.

“This is what has been happening in particular committees of the council and it is unacceptable. As councillors our code of conduct is quite clear about the behaviours expected of us which are the seven Nolan principles of public office – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

“I have tried on many occasions to demonstrate to councillors that we are following the correct processes – this is why our officers of the council are so important to us, they provide advice and if in any doubt about a particular subject, will seek advice from our county association or from legal professionals.”

Mrs Ives added: “We have also suffered greatly in our ability to do our work because we have very few councillors doing the lion’s share of the work and are not able to complete projects or carry out our duties as councillors effectively.

“This leaves us with much work to do and I hope we will be able to work really hard to try and achieve at least some of our aims before we are all up for election this time next year.”

Mrs Ives admitted she was ‘nervous’ about putting out the statement, but felt it was important for the community to know she had tried ‘really hard’ to lead the council through ‘very difficult times’.

She concluded: “It is not always obvious what goes on behind the scenes and nor are we able to divulge certain confidential information. I have no personal agenda as a councillor other than to clean up the council as I felt it needed some new people to come in and start afresh and I hope to have gone some way in achieving this.”