On three occasions this year ERYC Councillors and Officers have breached legislation to stifle opposition.
Conservative Councillor Vanessa Walker – Chair of First Standards Hearings
By doing so the Councillors have failed to undertake that which they are elected to do- carry out checks and balances.
It would appear that not just those who sat on the Standard Committees but those who voted in Full Council have failed. To quote Mathew Buckley, ERYC Head of Legal and Monitoring Officer:
“The Council, in accordance with that, accepted the Standards Committee’s recommendations.”
I would remind all Councillors that “ignorantia legis neminem excusat”.
Please read Buckley – Strangeway Due Process
- My First Standards Hearings
I refer to Harvey V Ledbury – 17 April 2018 – The Honourable Mrs Justice Cockerill
Third Report of Lord Nolan Committee
The learned judge also referred at pp.36-37 to paragraph 176 of the Third Report of Lord Nolan Committee, which had noted that authorities did not have any power to take action against councillors such as:
- to bar councillors from particular meetings;
- to bar councillors from access to particular papers; (this happened to me)
- to bar councillors from particular premises;
- to restrict their contacts with named staff;
- to suspend or remove councillors from particular committees; (this happened to me)
- to suspend or remove councillors entirely from council meetings and council business.
The Judge then held that,
“…as a matter of law, Lord Nolan’s Committee was correct in asserting that local authorities at present lack power to control councillors by action of the kind recommended in paragraph 176 of the report.”
- My Second Standards Hearings
For due process, the law, to be followed the following should have happened:
- The independent person will be in attendance at meetings of the Standards Committee or Hearing Committee when a decision is to be made on a complaint that has been investigated.
- The Independent Person will then make any representation on the facts and the Investigating Officer and Member will be allowed to ask questions of the Independent Person.
- The Independent Person to be invited to make representations.
- The Committee to ask any questions of the Independent Person.
As the Independent Person was not present none of this happened.
Please read Standards Committee Hearing Procedure
“Localism Act 2011 – Section 28 (4) A failure to comply with a relevant authority’s code of conduct is not be dealt with otherwise than in accordance with arrangements made under subsection (6)
(6)A relevant authority other than a parish council must have in place—
(a)arrangements under which allegations can be investigated, and
(b)arrangements under which decisions on allegations can be made.”
As it appears Mathew Buckley, The Standards Committee and Full Council have breached the Localism Act 2011:
- My sanctions must be revoked
- Full apologies must be given to me by Mathew Buckley, The Standards Committee and Full Council
- I must be compensated for my losses by Mathew Buckley, The Standards Committee and Full Council
- All papers denied to me must be provided to me.
- All members especially those who sit on the Standards Committees must be given full and correct training with regards the Code of Conduct.
I reserved my right to seek legal redress from all those involved.