Published: 29/01/2013 10:26

Former mayor 'did not breach code of conduct'

Written byBY JAMES BRINDLE

A FORMER Uttoxeter Mayor has been cleared of breaching the councillor’s code of conduct following a complaint from the current leader of the town council.

David Brookes, who is no longer a serving councillor, was the subject of a complaint by current Uttoxeter Mayor Councillor Martin Blencowe which was investigated by an independent investigator.

Councillor Blencowe accused Mr Brookes of showing ‘complete disrespect’ to the office of mayor and to him when Mr Brookes sent a letter to the Advertiser when he was serving in the role back in 2011.

Mr Brookes had written to the Press in his capacity of mayor and had accused Councillor Blencowe ‘and his colleagues’ of voting for a 100 per cent rise in the town council’s precept.

Councillor Blencowe said this statement was not supported by the minutes of the meeting in question and by signing the letter to the Advertiser as mayor he was ‘abusing his position’ and using his office to ‘further his own personal issues’.

Councillor Blencowe also felt parts of the letter amounted to a ‘personal attack’ on him.

Following an investigation the independent investigator found that Mr Brookes had breached part of the code of conduct in his letter, saying it was an ‘unreasonable or excessive personal attack’ on Councillor Blencowe.

The investigator said Mr Brookes had crossed the threshold of what is acceptable by ‘ridiculing’ Councillor Blencowe by likening his actions to those of ‘spoilt children’ who ‘throw their toys out of the pram’.

Therefore the independent investigator recommended to the standards committee at East Staffordshire Borough Council that a breach of the code of conduct had taken place.

The hearing into the complaint against Mr Brookes was due to be held in November last year – the same night a hearing was held in regards to a complaint made by Mr Brookes against Councillor Blencowe.

Mr Brookes had accused Councillor Blencowe of calling him a ‘liar’ at a town council meeting.

However, Mr Brookes asked for his hearing to be adjourned due to illness, but Mr Blencowe’s hearing went ahead as planned and he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

On Monday the hearing against Mr Brookes was finally heard by the Standards Committee at Burton Town Hall.

It emerged though that the day after Councillor Blencowe had been cleared he had indicated that he no longer wished to proceed with the complaint against Mr Brookes.

However, the borough council’s monitoring officer David Duckitt told the committee it was too late in the process to drop the complaint and it had to proceed.

The committee’s independent person Graham Goodall told the committee, as Councillor Brookes had chosen not to appear at the hearing to make his case, he would have to recommend to the committee that they follow the investigator’s recommendation.

He said: “With Mr Brookes choosing not to attend I have no alternative but to agree in full with the findings within the report – that the letter to the Press was unnecessary and unreasonable behaviour.”

After moving into private to deliberate the standards committee chairman Councillor Jake Fellows said: “Given the passage of time and the conflicting evidence in the report it is not clear that a breach has occurred so no sanction is applicable.

“Therefore the committee finds that no breach has taken place.”

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