Multiple Ledbury residents left in tears after being verbally abused by Labour Councillor Barrie Har

At a Livesey ward Labour party meeting held on 12th October, Ledbury Estate residents were left in tears after being sworn at and bullied by local Councillor Barrie Hargrove.

Background:

Ledbury Action Group circulated the below motion (created by Ledbury residents themselves) to all Southwark Councillors on 6th October.

We were pleased to hear that our motion was passed unanimously by Camberwell Green and Brunswick Park Labour ward branches. However, what was important to Ledbury residents was to know that they had the backing of their own local Livesey ward branch members.

A Livesey Labour ward meeting was scheduled for 12th October and one Ledbury Action Group member, Hannan Majid (already a Labour party member) received email notification of the meeting and was surprised to see that local councillor Barrie Hargrove (whom lives in Livesey ward but is not acting Councillor for this particular ward) had proposed a motion of his own (below.)

The Ledbury Action Group felt that whilst they agreed with some of the points in Barrie Hargrove's motion, many areas were factually incorrect and it did not address the pressing concerns of residents.

Ledbury Action Group and Labour Party member Hannan Majid emailed Cllr. Barrie Hargrove (Secretary for the Livesey ward) to notify him that he would be attending the meeting and would like to propose the motion from the residents and received this rather abrupt response:

After confirming his membership with the Camberwell and Peckham Constituency Secretary, Hannan was finally allowed to attend the meeting, and he ensured that he sent copies of the emergency motion proposal to the Chair in advance, twice, though did not receive any response.

Two further members of Ledbury Action Group joined the Labour party in order that they may attend the meeting, as well as a Ledbury resident who was additionally keen to attend.

Unfortunately four Ledbury residents at the meeting, most of whom were new members to the Labour party and first-timers, were left feeling bullied and abused by Cllr. Hargrove by the end of the meeting, and as such, severals formal complaints have been lodged. See partial statements below.

(Danielle Gregory, Ledbury resident & Ledbury Action Group member)

Upon arriving for the meeting, Cllr. Hargrove checked the list several times to ensure each of us were indeed members. He seemed annoyed that new Ledbury residents had joined the Labour party and were therefore entitled to attend the meeting.

As the meeting began, Cllr. Hargrove questioned whether I and Hannan Majid were really Ledbury residents as we had both recently moved off the estate due to the issues there (though all residents have the Right to Return.)

After ward Cllr. Richard Livingstone finished speaking on his report which included Ledbury, I raised my hand to propose some corrections due to some inaccuracies and was welcomed to do so by Cllr. Livingstone but was promptly shut down by the Chair who told me that I wasn’t asking a question.

During the meeting, myself and several of the Ledbury residents felt that Cllr. Hargrove was glaring at us repeatedly. Cllr. Hargrove was also passing notes to the chair, and it appeared as though he was telling the Chair what to say and do.  Cllr. Richard Livingstone also asked the Chair on two occasions for some ‘flexibility’ presumably because he noted himself that both the Chair and Cllr. Hargrove were being very abrupt with us.

As the meeting progressed to Cllr. Hargrove’s motion, I attempted to propose the Ledbury Action Group’s emergency motion. The Chair seemed disgruntled and reluctantly looked at our motion and concluded it wasn't an emergency, but that he would consider it after going through Cllr. Hargrove's motion first, but would not pass them both.

The Chair told me that I can't legitimately bring the motion forward because I had not sent it in advance and he seemed really annoyed. I replied that it has been sent via email to the Chair twice, but also sent to Cllr. Hargrove. The Chair replied that he had not received it and asked when it was sent, before replying that he does not check his emails that often.

The Chair said that he would not distribute the motion, but the other attendees insisting on seeing it, at which point it was circulated to the small group. The meeting began discussing Cllr. Hargrove’s motion and I attempted to raise issues of inaccuracies in some of the points of the motion. It was suggested that we could instead take our motion to Area Housing Forum. I replied that we had been doing full Council Assembly deputations, scrutiny meetings and so on, and that our motion has already been proposed to the Constituency meeting on 19th October, but that for the residents, they really wanted to know that their ward stood behind them, and that’s why we were here.

The Chair seemed very keen not to let us speak and so we weren’t able to explain our motion fully nor were we given due time to debate Cllr. Hargrove’s motion.

Cllr. Hargrove stated to the group of attendees that the Ledbury motion did not really come from Ledbury residents because it wasn’t done through the Tenants & Residents Association. I replied that we meet with the Tenants Association regularly and are working alongside them and that the motion has been put forward by the residents themselves from all the views gleaned through our lengthy and ongoing daily work with residents across the estate.

I tried to state that amendments to Cllr. Hargrove’s motion would be heavy and not possible in the 10 minutes remaining that Cllr Hargrove kept reminding us of. Another member asked if a motion HAD to be passed tonight and was told yes. I said we felt that the meeting might instead consider the motion put forward by the residents. I also tried to state that we felt that Cllr. Hargrove’s motion was in danger of undermining the risks present at the Ledbury Estate and reads more as a congratulatory message to Southwark Council. I added that whilst good progress has been made by the council, there was still work to be done and that the Ledbury motion reflects the most pressing outstanding issues according to the residents there. Whilst being repeatedly shut down by the Chair, I was told that I could only speak once and couldn't speak again.

Cllr. Hargrove’s motion went to a vote and passed by a majority of one. The Ledbury residents’ own motion was therefore dropped. Cllr. Hargrove then smirked at us.

At this point, Ledbury resident Daniela Perez burst into tears. I also began crying as I knew just how important it was to Ledbury residents to know their own ward stood solidly behind them. 

Glenn Holmes and I began packing up to leave, at which point Cllr. Hargrove strode over to where we were standing towards the corner of the room. I noticed that Cllr. Hargrove was looking very angry and was red in the face, he was gritting his teeth and clenching his fists.

Cllr. Hargrove asked Glenn aggressively ‘what problem did you have with my motion?’ to which Glenn replied that he felt that the motion was a little outdated. Glenn asked Cllr. Hargrove why he was so angry as he was squaring up to Glenn physically in a manner that appeared to show that he wanted to physically fight. We were all very taken aback.

Cllr. Hargrove began ranting at Glenn Holmes. I was stood beside Glenn. Cllr Hargrove said: ‘I’ve lived on the Ledbury all my f*cking life, I grew up there!, I replied: ‘why are you swearing at us?’ Cllr Hargrove replied: ‘I’m not swearing’ I responded: ‘but you just used the f-word and you’re being really aggressive.’ Cllr Hargrove replied: ‘don’t you ever swear?!’ I replied: ‘not really and not at meetings.’ Cllr Hargrove said: ‘this is PASSION! Cllr Hargrove then began swaying back and forth slightly, with clenched fists and shaking with rage, as if he was about to hit Glenn Holmes as Glenn tried to talk to Cllr. Hargrove to calm him down. Cllr. Hargrove was speaking through gritted teeth and glaring at us while still ranting angrily.

I turned to Cllr. Richard Livingstone and told him we were being sworn at. Cllr. Livingstone mumbled something couldn't hear, and looked rather awkward and shifty as he appeared to not know what to do in the situation.

When things had calmed down slightly, I handed Cllr. Hargrove a copy of the Ledbury Estate residents survey which was carried out several weeks ago. Cllr. Hargrove snatched it from my hand and said sarcastically ‘ooh a residents survey, who were your observers? SGTO?’ (Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations) I replied that it was not done with observers from the SGTO, but volunteers who are not part of Ledbury Action Group. Cllr Hargrove replied angrily: ‘really? How scientific is it?’ I responded: ‘as scientific as it can be for a brief survey.’

At that point I was more than ready to leave, I didn't want to give Cllr. Hargrove the pleasure of seeing me in tears any longer. Glenn extended his hand to Cllr. Hargrove, offering him a handshake in an attempt to calm the situation. Cllr. Hargrove tried to speak to Daniela Perez to apologise but she was too distraught to reply.

Myself and Daniela Perez were still in tears and the two of us, along with Glenn left, in utter disbelief that this had happened.

This was only my second encounter of Cllr. Barrie Hargrove. My first being on Sunday 2nd July when Cllr. Hargrove was part of a Labour selection meeting at the Ledbury Estate TRA hall and told me ‘we don’t need your votes anyway’ before slamming the hall door in front of my face after we’d asked if we could use our tenants hall to hold an emergency residents meeting. 

I am genuinely frightened of Cllr. Barrie Hargrove now because of his outbursts and fits of rage, and I would like this matter to be dealt with in order that this could never happen again.

Yours truly Danielle Gregory

(Daniela Perez, Ledbury Estate resident)

To whom it may concern,

On 12th October 2017, I, Daniela Perez (tenant of XXX Ledbury Estate) attended the Labour Party meeting in Livesey Ward as a new member.

I would like to say with a heavy heart how disheartening the whole experience was.

I was made to feel completely unwelcome and bullied throughout the whole process. I, as a tenant living on the Ledbury estate and as a new party member felt that this was my chance to be heard, but I feel that my fears and feelings weren’t been taking into account. From the start, I was made to feel uncomfortable by Mr Barrie Hargrove who is the branch secretary, and also sometimes by the chair Mr Emmanual Oyewole too.

When I, or my fellow Ledbury residents asked questions, we were either ridiculed or patronised by Barrie Hargrove and at times, Mr Emmanual Oyewole too. For example, we were either told in an aggressive tone we that we were making a statement rather than a question and stopped from speaking, or told that it was not the occasion to express our concerns. In addition, Mr Hargrove’s body language was very aggressive when I, or other residents of Ledbury spoke, he would grind his teeth, and form a fist with his hands. He passed notes to the chair and whispered or made certain comments of disregard over our questions. I have never felt so bullied and what’s especially hurtful is that this was done by a party who is meant to represent the people and support genuine concerns.

When we wanted to propose our emergency motion, which was made by us, the residents. We had already emailed it to the chair in advance and had also printed our motion so that everyone could have a copy. The chair said he never received it because he hasn’t checked his email. Then instead of working with us (which counsellor Richard Livingstone suggested) it was made impossible for us by Barrie Hargrove and a motion was passed about our estate, by him, an individual who is not living at the estate and a motion which I totally disagree with, especially as the living conditions on the estate have effectively turned my life and the lives of other residents upside down.

Once the motion was passed, obviously the sheer pain of the living conditions that I’m having to experience with my baby daughter and with frustration that the residents were rejected so aggressively, I began to uncontrollably cry, as I felt a total failure and let down by everyone from the government in power, to the Labour party who I once thought represented me.

While I cried, Mr Hargrove approached us and began attacking my fellow tenant Glenn Holmes, you would think people who see that we are noticeably distraught and in tears would have more sympathy, but Barrie Hargrove began to swear and verbally attack Glenn and Danielle. Barrie became aggressive and got very close to Glenn, invading his personal space. I honestly thought he might hit Glenn. The whole encounter was so traumatic. Then Mr Hargrove approached me and I was so shocked by all that had happened and frightened by Mr Hargrove that I couldn’t speak, I just cried in front of the man who had bullied and made me feel so uncomfortable throughout the meeting, and perhaps, at that point, Mr Hargrove realised he has lost control of his actions with the aggressive rant and he said sorry to me and everything just ended there.

I hope you take this seriously because I as a working class single woman deserve respect as a Labour member and not be bullied or kept quiet or feel fear of expressing my concerns or fear of branch members or Councillors being violent in nature and with their words and manner. I have to say my first experience of a Labour party meeting was one of the most horrible experiences I’ve ever had.

Yours sincerely Daniela Perez

(Glenn Holmes, Ledbury Estate Resident and Ledbury Action Group member)

On the evening of Thursday the 12th of October I and other residents of the Ledbury estate attended our local branch meeting to submit our emergency motion in support of Ledbury residents and to debate the contents of the motion proposed by Cllr Barrie Hargrove. My identity and right to be present was initially questioned by Cllr Hargrove but after giving my details I was allowed to join the meeting. During the debate on Cllr Hargrove’s motion in which I and two other residents questioned it’s tone, content and accuracy the meeting became tense with my two fellow residents reduced to tears. After the meeting ended Cllr Hargrove approached Danielle and I and with an aggressive manner questioned the legitimacy of our resident survey and our involvement with the SGTO, during this exchange Cllr Hargrove swore at Danielle. Cllr Hargrove then in an aggressive manner accused me of getting some personal satisfaction from the Ledbury Action Group campaign, trying to split the Labour party and once again my connection to the Ledbury estate, none of these are true. I explained some of my personal history regarding the issues on the Ledbury, the situation calmed and after a handshake I and the other Ledbury tenants left.

Glenn Holmes

(Hannan Majid, Ledbury Estate resident, Ledbury Action Group member and long-standing Labour member)

I've been a Labour party member for a couple of years, and receive emails inviting me to local ward events. An email for a meeting on 12th October caught my attention because it was about the Ledbury Estate. I requested to attend the meeting but it seemed as though Barrie Hargrove was trying his best to block me from attending. After persisting that I was entitled to attend, I was eventually permitted entry. But from the 'get-go' Barrie Hargrove's manner was very abrupt and abrasive. 

At the meeting itself (also my first time meeting Barrie Hargrove) he made it obvious that he was going to make it as difficult as possible for any of us to have any input. Despite emailing our emergency motion to the chair twice, days in advance, and to Barrie Hargrove and the other councillor, the chair said he had never received it. 

During the meeting, Barrie Hargrove looked furious and kept looking towards us, then whispering to the chair, and halting us from speaking. I said to Barrie that we are Ledbury residents and should be able to debate the motion that he was proposing and he angrily replied that it doesn't work like that because this is the first meeting we have attended.

Unfortunately I had to leave early to tend to my children, which meant I was unable to vote. When my wife came home later that night in tears after being viciously abused verbally, alongside other Ledbury residents, I was horrified to hear that a Labour Councillor had behaved in such a manner and felt the events of this meeting needed to be told and shared as its simply not acceptable, and not the Labour that I recognise, nor the party that I voted for - [Hannan Majid]

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