THE mayor of Uttoxeter has been cleared of any wrongdoing after calling a fellow councillor a ‘liar’ during a heated exchange at a town council meeting last year.
Councillor Martin Blencowe (pictured) was reported to East Staffordshire Borough Council’s Standards Board by former mayor and town and borough councillor David Brookes.
In his complaint Mr Brookes said that at a meeting of Uttoxeter Town Council in January 2011 when he was the serving town mayor, Councillor Blencowe shouted at him and shouted that he was a liar.
The comments were made at the meeting after Mr Brookes had read out a letter from Councillor Andrew Riley, who was not a serving councillor at the time, which demanded Mr Brookes apologised for comments he had made in a letter to the Advertiser.
In the letter Mr Brookes said Councillor Blencowe and some of his independent colleagues had voted for every part of the record precept the previous January, despite the minutes of that meeting showing he had abstained from voting.
When Mr Brookes refused to apologise Councillor Blencowe admitted he stood up and called him a liar but refuted Mr Brookes’ claims he was aggressive.
Councillor Blencowe told the hearing: “The letter portrayed me as a liar and that I had done things I had not done. I thought there had to be some actions taken to bring it to the council’s and the public’s attention.
“It was an appropriate challenge to defend my reputation but other councillors as well. I felt very strongly and felt I was speaking on other councillor’s behalf as well.” Chairman of the standards board Councillor Jake Fellows asked Councillor Blencowe if he could differentiate between saying something is a lie and calling someone a liar.
Councillor Blencowe said: “Yes writing it down once is a lie but continually repeating it, it goes from being a lie to someone becoming a liar and I think Mr Brookes moved from the point of saying a lie to a total perpetuation of a story he made up which discredited me.
“I think he crossed that boundary and he did so as mayor and not just as a councillor — the mayor of Uttoxeter was framing me as a liar.” After hearing evidence from witnesses called on Councillor Blencowe’s behalf including former town clerk Lynne Brown and former councillor Jerry Latham, the committee retired to consider its verdict.
After around half-an-hour of deliberations Councillor Blencowe was cleared of both alleged breaches of the councillors’ code of conduct.
Councillor Fellows did however say the behaviour was ‘not to be condoned’ and was ‘unacceptable’ and advised Uttoxeter Town Council to make sure it records ‘contemporaneous’ minutes in the future and that members are aware of standing order procedures and the code of conduct.
Following the meeting Councillor Blencowe told the Advertiser: “I can assure everyone that under the new council such recommendations have already been enacted.
“The council is a place where respect, due debate and considered thought is the norm. This is being reflected in the activities undertaken by council and has been further enhanced by the appointment of an excellent clerk.”
A complaint made my Councillor Blencowe against Mr Brookes, which was also due to be heard at the meeting on Monday night, had to be adjourned to a later date due to Mr Brookes being unwell and unable to attend.