TENSIONS ran high at the second day of the Standards Board hearing into Councillor Esmond Jenkins’ alleged breach of the councillor’s code of conduct.

The five-person committee at Cotswold District Council’s Cirencester headquarters heard accusations that Cllr Jenkins had been disrespectful and aggressive towards planning officers.

CDC’s head of planning Philippa Lowe told the committee that his conduct towards her colleagues had caused a significant degree of distress and had a negative impact on the running of the service.

Miss Lowe said that, after a meeting in which Cllr Jenkins had allegedly been disrespectful towards planning officers, she had asked her colleagues to inform her of any other cases in which Cllr Jenkins’ behaviour had been cause for concern.

“There were concerns that a member was behaving in a way that was totally out of all proportion,” she added.

Cllr Jenkins noted that Miss Lowe’s complaint against him was received by Standards for England quickly following another complaint, which is also being addressed at this week’s hearing, made by Max Thomas, chief executive of property developers Watermark.

Cllr Jenkins asked why Miss Lowe has quizzed colleagues about his behaviour.

“This was a bit of a fishing trip then, is that reasonable?” he asked.

“Not at all,” Miss Lowe replied.

Cllr Jenkins also said he had noticed that the allegations made against him by Miss Lowe and Mr Thomas were identical, although she denied ever having seen Mr Thomas’ complaints.

Committee chairman Martin Jauch objected to what Cllr Jenkins was suggesting.

“You are claiming that an officer of this council has conspired against you,” he said.

Cllr Jenkins disputed this claim, saying: “I have said nothing of the sort.”

Mr Jauch argued that he had, and suggested that he was implying Miss Lowe and Mr Thomas had collaborated in making their complaints.

“Maybe that is the implication, sir,” Cllr Jenkins replied.

The committee also heard from a number of planning officers, including Helen Donnelly, who said she had felt intimidated and bullied by Cllr Jenkins.

Planning officer Mike Napper also gave evidence today, and told the committee that Cllr Jenkins had been “angry and hostile” towards him, and referred to him as “Napper.”

“My experience of dealing with you has given me cause for concern at times,” he added.

Cllr Jenkins refuted that saying there is no evidence to support Mr Napper’s claims.

Also appearing in front of the committee today was CDC chief executive David Neudegg, who said Cllr Jenkins had been extremely unpleasant towards him.

“Your emails to me have ranged from being intimidating and disrespectful to threatening and bordering on harassment,” he said.

Cllr Jenkins argued that the frankness in his communications with Mr Neudegg were the result of the serious nature of the issues at Cotswold Water Park.

Mr Neudegg added Cllr Jenkins had been extremely disparaging towards planning staff.

“If you’re not saying they’re corrupt you’re still saying they are useless,” he added.

Cllr Jenkins disputed these claims, and expressed concern that emails between himself and Mr Neudegg relating to planning officers had been seen by council staff.

Other planning officers who appeared at today’s hearing, included planning director Andrew Fotherby, who agreed that Cllr Jenkins could be “challenging”, but that all their meetings had been “professional and courteous”.

Cllr Jenkins will begin presenting his case tomorrow morning, beginning with Watermark chief executive Max Thomas.

For live updates on the hearing, which is due to conclude on Friday, follow @IanC1985 on Twitter, or see the Standard website for full reports.