A BLACKHEATH councillor has hit out at a "culture of bullying" and "sinister threats" at Greenwich Council after deciding not to contest the next election.

In an email sent to Labour members of Blackheath Westcombe ward and seen by News Shopper, Councillor Alex Grant claims decisions are made with no consultation and that councillors are verbally abused or threatened with disciplinary action if they speak out.

He also criticised several policy decisions in Greenwich, including the recent Bridge the Gap river crossings campaign, which was launched with little warning on the front of council newspaper Greenwich Time late last year.

Cllr Grant, who was first elected to the local authority in 1998 at the age of 24, wrote that the problems were starting to affect his health and that family reasons were also behind his decision not to stand for reselection.

He wrote: "It has been a privilege to be a councillor for the area in which I grew up and in which my mother and father still live.

"But I am also finding the Labour Group in Greenwich an increasing unpleasant environment to work in. All too often, decisions are made with little or no consultation with the community, the party, or backbench Labour councillors.

"All too often, Labour councillors and party members find themselves at the receiving end of verbal abuse, or sinister threats of disciplinary action, and then find that their concerns about this bullying are simply ignored."

The email goes on: "Like others, I have found this culture of bullying difficult to tolerate, to the extent that it is beginning to harm my health. Labour has much to be proud of in Greenwich.

"But we could achieve so much more if the Labour Group at the council showed greater civility, if it worked more closely with the party and the community to tackle the problems the borough faces, and ensured our limited resources are spent more wisely.

"The council leadership has also adopted bizarre policy positions - such as aggressive demonisation of council tenants after the riots of 2011, and unconditional support for new road crossings across the Thames in 2013 - that have not reflected the views of the Labour Party locally, or even the majority of Greenwich's Labour councillors."

The email will be seen as a direct criticism of council leader Councillor Chris Roberts, who is often accused of being secretive and running the authority in an undemocratic style.

It has emerged that Councillor Dick Quibell, who attempted to challenge for the deputy leadership last year, will also not seek reselection. He declined to comment on his reasons.

News Shopper asked to speak to Cllr Roberts about the email but we were instead referred to the London Labour Party press office, who were unavailable for comment.

But chief whip Councillor Ray Walker told News Shopper he was "nonplussed" by the allegations and insisted policies were discussed by the party. He said: "I'm not aware of any of those descriptions that he puts on the Labour Group or the council."

He said that disciplinaries were carried out by officers in an open manner, denying knowledge of "sinister threats", saying: "I think it's surprising that he's got that impression.

"I don't know why he's had that impression."

And he claimed that, if there was a culture of bullying, it would be stopped. He said: "That wouldn't be a good culture to work in. We wouldn't allow a bullying culture. There's no bullying culture."

Cllr Grant was unavailable for comment.

This week, Greenwich Council was named Council of the Year at the Local Government Chronicle Awards.