Politics, it is said, is a dirty game but until our last meeting I didn't realise how dirty local politics has become and how low people will stoop for political power and points scoring.

The reaction of some independent councillors, while understandable, wasn't acceptable and we should remember what our role is and be mature enough to ignore their jibes.

However, it was a huge surprise to me that my female colleagues have complained about sexism and general controlling behaviour, both equally as abhorrent.

In April 2017 Dame Margaret Hodge MP, co-chair of the Local Government Commission, said that "female councillors face a culture of sexism which would not be out of place in the 1970s.”

Nearly four years on from that report, the culture amongst the parties remains unchanged. The complaint by a colleague that “they get away with it because of who they are" has merit.

You only had to watch one live full council meeting last year to see profanities and the Mayor being called a daft cow by the Labour leader. Obviously these remarks have now been edited out but the world has seen that misogyny is rife amongst local parties.

Currently women make up 30% of Allerdale Borough Council, however it is the Conservatives who have a shameful record of only two female councillors. It is little wonder when comments such as “you can control women but not the weather” pop out of mouths so easily.

Not only is it sexism that is rife, there is the disrespectful and frankly controlling behaviour of purposely not joining a virtual meeting on time and holding everyone up, and the same things happen after breaks. This is to “show who is boss” and “you will wait until I am ready”, a psychological ploy being used because of the time leeway given for internet connections etc. It is, in essence, a purposeful and pathetic ploy to undermine the authority of the meeting.

You might think that the political arena should be a place of “argy bargy” and inappropriate behaviours classed as “it’s politics”. Well, it isn’t – it’s old-fashioned bullying and has no place in today's society. As independents we have addressed the issues and hope that both Labour and the Conservatives follow suit.

Meanwhile, continue to stay safe, follow the guidelines and hopefully we will be back to normal before long.

Best wishes, Paul.