A Greenwich councillor who allegedly told council staff to “pipe down” during a training session has had a code of conduct complaint against her upheld.

But the authority’s opposition leader has raised concerns about the lengthy process, saying it has resulted in “costly investigations dragging on over a year”.

Greenwich’s full council meeting for June saw members updated on the outcome of a standards hearing held earlier that month regarding a complaint made against Cllr Ann-Marie Cousins.

The hearing found that “on the balance of probabilities, Councillor Cousins did make a comment directed towards officers that they should pipe down or words to that effect” during a staff training session in April 2019.

Cllr Nigel Fletcher, the leader of Greenwich’s opposition who sits on the standards committee, told the full meeting of council it was not his intention to address specific points of the case.

However, he did voice concerns over the length of time and resources taken up by the investigation, as well as hinting at “tensions” within the majority Labour party.

“It is an unusual thing to have a standards committee report before us (and) that’s because most complaints are able to be solved (beforehand),” Cllr Fletcher said.

“The fact that a complaint reaches a formal stage…isn’t necessarily a reflection of the seriousness of the complaint, it’s more a reflection of the way the process has transpired.”

“The last few years some patterns appear to have been emerging, potential tensions and problems within the majority (Labour) group (are) making it more difficult for matters to be resolved at an early stage”.

He added such issues had resulted in “costly investigations dragging on over a year”.

It brings to an end a long-running dispute, which began in April last year when Henrietta Quartano, the council’s senior assistant director of children’s safeguarding and social care, alleged that Cllr Cousins had breached the member’s code of conduct by telling council officers to “pipe down” or something similar during a training session for members.

A decision on the complaint came more than a year later and after a marathon hearing of Greenwich’s standards committee on June 11, which was streamed live online.

Abbey Wood ward member Cllr Cousins tweeted a link leading to a live stream of the hearing as it was happening, adding the caption: “See the ‘shackles’ around this councillor. What happens when you stand-up for yourself or is not welcomed! #icantbreathe (sic)”.

According to the report on the outcome of the meeting, the committee took into account that the original complaint contained separate behavioural allegations against a number of councillors who attended the training session, not just against Cllr Cousins.

The report added that Ms Quartano “had acknowledged in her complaint that taken individually, the behaviour was not in itself serious”.

The standards committee had recommended that Cllr Cousins be provided training on the members’ code of conduct, the council’s complaints procedures and sections of member/officer protocol.

All councillors will be offered the same training, the report adds.

Cllr Cousins was contacted for comment for this story.