Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Councillor Disqualified by Adjudication Panel

Last Thursday saw a hearing by the Adjudication Panel investigating the case brought against Councillor Eleanor Pinfold by the Standards Board of England following a complaint by the Monitoring Officer of Sutton Council. Eleanor was disqualified for twelve months meaning that she has to relinquish her position as councillor for Cheam ward with immediate effect.

The findings of the Independent Adjudication Panel are a serious matter and we will carefully examine ways in which lessons need to be learned. It is appropriate to await Miss Pinfold’s announcement on her right of appeal, or alternatively her intention to accept the findings as they stand, with their attendant penalty.

Further comment, opinion or actions, pending an appeal, may be considered prejudicial at a time when due process is still underway. The Conservative Group adopts the Council’s Code of Conduct as its guide to acceptable behaviour by elected members.

Members of the Conservative Group are individually and collectively bound to obey the spirit and letter of the Code of Conduct. Breaches of the Code of Conduct by members, which result in sanctions against them, are mirrored by corresponding sanctions within the Conservative Group Rules which range from reprimand, suspension or expulsion.

The Conservative Group will make no further comment on this case until it has been fully discharged by either the Independent Adjudication Panel or by the Courts following an appeal.

34 comments:

Hand of History said...

How long will we have to wait for this "due process"?

I for one would like more information about why an elected councillor should be disqualified by an unelected quango.

A report in the local Guardian says that she "used brash and offensive language when communicating with council officers and Sutton Police", including an instance of referring to the Police Superintendent by his surname. Not exactly a crime - but don't forget we are talking about the namby-pamby PC brigade at Sutton Council!

It should be a matter of concern when a democratically elected representative can be disqualified for confronting the council, which ought to be her principal objective. The Standards Board should be investigating corruption and malpractice, not "brash language"

David said...

Speaking from experience, "due process" has nought to do with any of these actions.

Anonymous said...

What a shame that didn't stop some members of the Tory group toasting ex-Cllr Pinfold's demise with champagne that very afternoon!

scotty nugent said...

Being elected to office is a privilege and those in that position should rise to the dignity of that post.

Being a councillor or an MP for that matter doesnt mean you have the right to do anything you want to. if we don't demand the highest standards of conduct from elected politicians we get the nasty sleaze of New Labour and the moral bankruptcy of the Major years over again. trust me, I remember them all too well!

Without damaging democracy we do need to regulate the behaviour of politicians. I can't see what is wrong with that personally if the case was fair and accurate.

David said...

No one could argue that there has to be regulation and a watchdog of some sorts to ensure that elected officials maintain the standards expected of them. I would, though, suggest that a more sensible system is found. The current method is undoubtedly open to political and malicious abuse and is flawed to such an extent that injustices will and, almost certainly have already, occur.

I suggest an external police investigation is a possible solution for allegedly errant members

lisa said...

I would rather that the police be out catching criminals instead of chasing local politicians around.

David said...

With the substantial funding saved by abolishing the current system, additional officers could be appointed producing more manpower to catch criminals.

Anonymous said...

Mind, it wouldn't have hurt to have given Cllr Pinfold some backing or at least some support during her "trial". Still, I suppose those that delighted in stabbing her in the back were those referred to above who were toasting her demise in cheap champagne.

David Pickled said...

Fair trials are key to any semi-judicial process like this, and that is generally what the standards board provides. Very few of the complaints, often very trivial, are taken further - and quite rightly so.

On the whole, you would expect a cllr to be held accountable by the electorate, not a quango. However, if a code of conduct is broken on a consistent basis, and severely, then surely there must be a check on abuse. This is where Hand of History, whoever he or she may be,is wrong.

Basically, if one Councillor abuses another, it is not nice but part of the job in many respects. What's more, that cllr being abused can respond through the local media, in the council chamber even through the courts if needs be. However, what happens if a cllr is consistently abusing Council officers? the very nature of the officers' jobs means that they cannot respond the abuse through the media. In fact, apart from reporting it to their line managers, they can't really do much about it at all. That is unfair and is tantamount to bullying. Therefore a method is needed to put a stop to such abuses of position where they occur, outside of the electoral process if needs be.

I assume that there were informal meetings before the standards bard stage. I assume chief officers spoke with the Cllr concerned about ehr conduct. I assume that her group members did likewise, to try and prevent the situation escalating. Therefore, that a case of this nature reached this stage is telling in itself, as it implies repeat offences.

Finally, I would point out, and freely admit, that I have not read the report from the standards board before making these comments. That is simply because it does not yet appear on the Standards Board website. It will be interesting to read what the background to the case was and why the SB gave the sanction it did. I suspect it was not just a case of calling a police officer by his surname only and alleging collusion with the Liberal Democrat Party, as the local Guardian report would suggest.

I guess that Cllr Scully and some Sutton Cllrs may know the answer to the above already. As an unititated local person though, I await the publication of the report with interest.

David said...

It took a week for my case summary to be published on the SB website, I would imagine, with the holiday interruption, it would be on there in a few days.

Cllr David Pickles said...

How very amusing that some cretin has to use a comment name similar to mine.

What mindset triggers this?

Moron.

Got the guts to come out in the open have you or not?

Scully said...

Edmund Pickles

What has encouraged you to comment on David Pickled now, since this is the 12th comment that he has left. You managed 10 different comments with different pseudonyms in one evening. If you are going to play these games yourself, you are not going to be taken seriously with your faux shock and anger. How about we have some grown-up debate and leave the sniping gutter politics to the people that are actually in power, seeking to increase our Council Tax by another 4%+?

David Pickled said...

Ooops! Seem to have struck a raw nerve. Sorry Cllr Pickles!

I half expected to see some computer error type message to appear at the end of your post... 'warning, sense of humour failure... warning... warning...'

getting back on topic though, still no sign of the Standards Board report as far as I can tell.

scott nugent said...

Ooooo errrr, Councillor Pickles...wrong side of the bed this morning?

Mulgrave Muldoon said...

Not a very funny lot on here - nor clever either. Rattled I'd say.

David Chutney said...

I agree with Cllr Pickled...

Mulgrave Muldoon said...

Very rattled with the Cheam delivery!

Scully said...

I must admit that I was concerned that the BNP felt it worth delivering in Cheam over the weekend. Although they are predicted a possible two seats on the London Assembly at the expense of the two One London members, they will find slim pickings in a place like Cheam.

Immigration is undoubtedly an issue that is high on people's priority. However it needs to be tackled with better enforcement and organisation of the Home Office before it is allowed to be hijacked by such extremist parties.

Bruno Elrington said...

Yes - and it needs to be tackled with guts and honesty which the Tories have neither. Why don't they tell the electorate the truth that until the EU is abandoned we can't control out own borders? Because there are too many Tory MP's with business interests in Europe sucking up to it and to hell with the British. One of the most corrupt parties there ever was.

bruno elrington said...

Also interesting to see Cllr Scully's attempts at a "listening" panel by way of his cronies spouting off about various issues has illicted precisely nil comments on the majority of the posts. That's how much this site is really read, despite desperate attempts to the contrary to persuade people it is widely perused.

Scully said...

Bruno

I can't help but notice from my web counter that you have visited my blog 52 times. This is what distorts the readership figures of the blog, ironically putting me in the top 200 political blogs in the UK.

UKIP iz really good 'n' stuff said...

< insert more generic UKIP anti-Tory empty rhetoric here >

The Zebra Kid said...

"The Conservative group will make no further comment" LOL! UKIP have though, and exposed the nastiness and vitriol of the current local Tory party towards Eleanor Pinfold. The truth will out in the end, and maybe the electorate have got plenty of time to know what the truth is.

simon said...

Wibble wibble wibble...

Jeremy Thorpe said...

.......rock on Eleanor. You have my support and always will. The Tories treated you like dirt, and shame on them. Their arrogance will come back to haunt them, and serve them right. Apparently, according to the press they have already won the Cheam byelection in your name.

Disgusting, disgraceful, and disingenuous. Let's hope the Lib-Dems reign supreme.

aardvark said...

Remember what happened to Jeremy Thorpe?

Anonymous said...

Good informed comment by Bruno Elrington. We do control our borders becasue we are not (yet) fully part of Schengen. What is needed is an immigration system that works.It doesnt.
Rusenka Zahradnikova

Sir Harold Wislon said...

Looks like the Tories have knifed the wrong person in the back, according to the chatter on the doorstep in Cheam. They may live, hopefully, to regret their actions.

Ursula Bumolian said...

......hear hear! Three cheers for Eleanor! Tories watch your backs.

wibblefold said...

"I admit that I and my mode of self wibble may be considered somewhat 'old-wibble'. I am, by habit and wibble, a direct and forthright wibble who imposes high wibble on herself and others."

Cllr David Pickles said...

Not really funny "wibblefold". Pity you don't know Eleanor - if you did you'd appreciate the work she did for the Tories - pity they didn't appreciate her.

Scully said...

It is disappointing to see the LibDems slagging off Eleanor in their latest Focus. They always ask how she is and give a concerned look but then when they can hide behind the anonimity of a newsletter, they have a go at her for lowering standards.

I do not condone her approach in communicating with officers, but such naked negative personal campaigning casts a shadow on all politicians including the LibDems.

Cllr David Pickles said...

Paul - yes I agree with you there. The Lib-Dems have been callous in their two-faced attitude towards Eleanor. It's just a shame that some senior Tories show the same attitude.

wibblefold said...

mad as a box of frogs