Councillors Split Over Money For Secretive Committee

Council Chamber at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

A request to add £2100 to the budget of a secretive committee has split the Council.

Councillors attending the Policy and Resources committee were asked to approve the transfer of extra funding to the Standards Committee.

The group, which meets behind closed doors, investigates allegations of rule-breaking or unacceptable behaviour by Councillors and can rack up legal costs by bringing over investigators from Cornwall.

The Government wants these monitoring committees abolished in the future.

Councillor Richard McCarthy objected to the transfer request presented by Chief Executive Philip Hygate.

He said he’s not impressed with the standards regime nationally and described it as a failed policy.

Philip said it was a demand–led service and money was required to fulfil its legal duty.

But Councillor McCarthy wanted to know what the money would be spent on and also requested a breakdown of recent legal expenditure.

He says a fellow Councillor has been investigated for 12 months and is barred from talking to anyone else about it. We understand the issue relates to a remark made by a Councillor during a debate, which was viewed by some as personal and discriminatory.

Richard says this was an issue that should have been sorted out over a cup of tea.

There was deadlock when the vote over the funding came around. Marian Bennett used her casting vote as committee chairman to ensure that the money was transferred.

Richard wants a breakdown on how much the Standards Committee has spent on legal fees.

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