THE OUTGOING executive director of Stratford District Council claims she was subject to sexual advances and inappropriate comments during her short time with the authority.
Isabel Edgar Briancon resigned from the council after just six months and outlined her reasons in a shocking Facebook post.
They included allegations a councillor licked his hand before ‘forcing’ it into her face, and being told she had ‘good breeding hips’.
She also claims she was told to be more ‘chatty’ at an appraisal, and then told by a councillor she needed to ‘throw her opinions around a bit more’ and it would help if she was 6’2 tall.
In the post Ms Edgar Briancon, who earned more than £80,000 a year, wrote: “If you think sexism doesn’t exist anymore then read on. It is with sadness and great relief that I left my employer yesterday.
“When I went into my recent appraisal I was expecting it to be a positive reflection on my previous six months. No one had said otherwise. However I came away utterly disillusioned.
“Rather than focusing on my achievements and providing meaningful feedback, I was told I needed to ‘chat’ more and do more ‘corridor’ conversations. The feedback was that elected members wanted me to be more informal. That was it. Nothing else.
“Taking this feedback on board I spoke to other elected members to find out where they felt my leadership needed to grow.
“This is what I got back and I quote verbatim – ‘It would help if you were 6’2’. ‘You need to throw your opinions around a bit more’ and ‘be more dominant’.
“I went on a ward walk with a councillor and he told me unashamedly that ‘I had good breeding hips’ and that if I wanted fertility support he would do a pagan ritual for me.
“When I sat down with another councillor he told me that he thought it was a disgrace to have to enforce gender equality on a public board.
“And at a recent conference event I was accosted by a councillor asking me for a kiss, forcing his hand that he had just licked into my face and telling me he ‘could tell I liked that sort of thing’.
“I got the message. I left. Culture is everything when you are faced with a bunch of men that think leadership means being a man and that a woman should be chatty, with breeding hips. Get the eff out. I shall be writing my complaint, but seriously do not have much hope for them.”
The council responded to the allegations with a statement to The Observer.
A spokeswoman said: “Stratford-on-Avon District Council has a zero tolerance in relation to any form of discrimination including alleged sexism. The district council therefore takes any such allegations extremely seriously and will fully investigate any complaints of inappropriate behaviour. Before any investigation however, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the specific allegations at this stage.”
The post sent shockwaves through the Conservative-controlled authority.
Coun Jason Fojtik (independent) told the Observer: “I’m absolutely shocked by these allegations and must be investigated as a matter of urgency.
“If there is a culture of sexism within the council then it must be stamped out. The council must be promoting more women in senior roles to stop this corrosive culture from festering.
“I will be asking serious questions regarding these serious allegations.
“I’m horrified that this is still happening in 2019 and having three daughters myself would not want them subjected to this kind of abuse.”
Lib Dem group leader Susan Juned added: “These are serious allegations and we’ll be calling for the leader of the
council to arrange a full independent inquiry.”