Allegations of bullying against Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts made on this website are being investigated by the London Labour Party, it’s emerged tonight.
Roberts left a voicemail message for one of his cabinet members threatening to sack that individual for suggesting in an email to Labour councillors that a decision about the staging of the controversial Run To The Beat half-marathon be taken by whatever council is elected after May 2014’s election.
Roberts has said he would stand down after 2014’s election.
An angry tirade concluded in Roberts telling one of his most senior councillors that the member should “should get it into your fucking thick skull” that he would be taking the decision about the race, and the choice wouldn’t be left with any future administration.
The senior councillor concerned is not being named.
The London Labour Party acted after Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander passed on concerns from her constituents, sent to her via Twitter and via email, about what was happening in her neighbouring borough.
“We were made aware of the allegations earlier today and are investigating the matter,” a London Labour Party statement sent via Alexander says.
“Clearly these issues are taken seriously by the party and where evidence exists we will take action.”
There has been no public comment so far from any Labour figure in Greenwich borough.
Since Monday’s story was published, this website has learned further details about Chris Roberts’ attitude to the controversial Run to the Beat race, which went ahead this year without a promised consultation with residents.
Roberts claimed he had a conflict of interest, so could not make a judgement on the issue. Local residents have long been unhappy about Run to the Beat because they are not consulted on the route, and its circular route effectively cuts them off from being able to travel around the area, even by foot.
But Roberts’ voicemail tirade makes it clear that despite that conflict of interest, he would be making decisions about whether the race would go ahead. It’s already widely believed in Greenwich Council circles that Roberts had made it clear this year’s Run to the Beat should happen, no matter what objections were raised by residents.
The voicemail has been heard by many inside and outside the Labour party locally, and multiple copies of it are in existence.
The London Labour Party investigation now gives the opportunity for members who have the voicemail, or other allegations of bullying against Chris Roberts or other senior figures in the Greenwich Labour group, to blow the whistle on the way they have been treated.
Update, 1.20am Wednesday: Chris Roberts was a guest at The Valley on Tuesday evening, as Charlton Athletic drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest. He appeared on the pitch to promote the Stoptober anti-smoking initiative, posing against a large red circle bearing the word “stop”.
Update, 6.10pm Thursday: The News Shopper has published audio of the voicemail, and identified the recipient as John Fahy, cabinet member for health and older people.