Sunday, 3 June 2012

Use your democratic vote to deny yourself democracy

MPs bow to the whip to save their own poxy careers rather than follow their consciences.

Councillor's suspension extended to six months

A parish councillor's three-month suspension following a complaint over a lawnmower was extended to six months yesterday.

Conservative Matthew Pollard had appealed against the three-month suspension handed out by North West Leicestershire District Council's standards sub-committee.
A tribunal at Loughborough Magistrates' Court, sitting as a regulator of local government standards in England, ruled that Coun Pollard's appeal had failed and doubled his suspension and ordered that he undergo training in the code of conduct relating to councillors.

The tribunal was told Coun Pollard had been the subject of a standards sub-committee hearing after an allegation that he refused to release a lawnmower he had previously sold to the council unless it paid a £1 storage charge to him.
It heard that the mower had been sold to the council for use by the parish warden at a meeting chaired by Coun Pollard himself on March 3, 2007, for a sum of £850.
The Standards Board for England investigated after complaints were received by the council.

Coun Pollard's suspension was imposed by the district's standards sub-committee after considering the investigation's findings.

It said Coun Pollard should not have been chairing a meeting where a decision was taken to buy his lawnmower.

Coun Pollard, the longest serving member of Ellistown and Battleflat Parish Council, yesterday appealed that the sanction imposed was too severe and that Coun Raymond Woodward should not have been sitting on the sub-committee that imposed the suspension because he may have been biased against him.

Coun Pollard, who represented himself, told the hearing he had a conversation with Coun Woodward, at the district council election count on May 5, 2011, at Hermitage leisure centre, in Whitwick, about the lawnmower issue.

He said Coun Woodward told him: "The Conservative Party has not looked after you very well. Come and join the Labour Party. We will pay your legal expenses."
Coun Pollard said: "He should have declared that conversation. That conversation meant he had a prejudicial interest and he should have walked away from that sub-committee."

Coun Pollard told the hearing information from other councillors was not presented to the sub-committee and that the suspension was too long. He said: "It was too harsh. That is all I have to say."

Coun Woodward told the tribunal that he did speak to Coun Pollard, but did not advise him to join the Labour Party.

He said: "Coun Pollard said he was thinking of joining Labour. I told him there were procedures that had to be followed."

Judge Christopher Hughes told Coun Pollard there was not "a single shred of evidence" of any bias shown by Coun Woodward in the dealings of the sub-committee.
He said: "We are entirely satisfied that Councillor Woodward's conduct was satisfactory.

"There was no need for him to declare anything at any stage."
Judge Hughes said the bench did not consider the suspension excessive.
He said: "We increase the suspension to six months with a requirement to undergo code of conduct training."

At last.