A CALL for domestic abuse victims working at the county council to be given ten days paid leave was rejected by the council’s Conservatives.

Leading the call, Councillor Richard Udall said the change - which would give staff time to leave partners, find new homes and protect themselves and their children - would save lives but some Conservative councillors said the current ‘flexible’ arrangements of a week’s leave for employees was sufficient.

A disappointed Cllr Udall said: “It’s not often a notice of motion comes before council that could actually save a life.

“By saying you are opposing this motion you are sending a seriously bad message out to the community and to our employees.

“Flexibility is great but a right is what we are asking. It gives you confidence, it gives you an assurance and it gives you employment protection at a time when you are most vulnerable.

“Yes we did pledge a determination to fight domestic abuse, oppose it, condemn it, work against it, not be ‘flexible’ with it.”

A former employee of the council who was a victim of domestic abuse had told Cllr Udall that it took her three years to leave her partner and she spent lunch breaks planning to escape.

She told Cllr Udall ten days would have given her the confidence to leave earlier and she could have acted without fear of losing her job.

Members of the council’s Conservative cabinet did not support the motion.

Cllr Karen May said she could not see a compelling case to support it due to the council’s current “flexible support” for employees who were victims of domestic abuse.

She said: “This council and its members have pledged never to commit, condone or remain silent about domestic abuse and sexual violence.

Cllr May said employees of the council are encouraged to disclose domestic abuse issues with line managers who can then seek approval for special leave and further time off beyond the seven days.

Cllr Andy Roberts said: “Without intending to do so, the motion is flawed in that what it seeks to do is make the victim suffer even greater while the perpetrator is left untouched.

“The very premise of this resolution is that in those circumstances a woman should be taken from her home, her community, her friends and her children should be taken from their friends and school, put into a foreign environment while the person who actually carried out the crime is left in the home. That seems fundamentally wrong to me.”