Council Looking For New Independent Person

town hall 4The Council is looking for a new Independent Person to help deal with standards complaints against elected members.

There are currently two islanders in the role, Smudge Smith and Mary Gibbs. Smudge has decided to stand down meaning a position has become vacant.

Independent Persons are unpaid. They work with the Council’s Monitoring Officer to decide if a member has broken the code of conduct.

Chair of the Standards Committee, Cllr Gordon Bilsborough, says it’s an important role that’s similar to someone on a jury.

They have to look at the evidence and decide whether the case should proceed.

Gordon says they need someone who is well balanced and can debate the issues. He says it helps if they’re mature and have “seen a bit of life.”

And he says it’s not onerous – there have only been four complaints this year.

But he thinks it will be difficult to find someone in Scilly who’s completely independent.

The Council’s application pack says anyone who has been a councillor or officer in the past five years, or is one of their relatives or close friends, can’t apply.

Gordon’s been on both sides of the standards process himself. In 2009, he wrote a song about the Battery Rocks in Penzance, which was uploaded to YouTube.

Someone from that town complained because he was a councillor at the time, although Gordon argued that he did it as a member of the folk club, not the Council.

He warned that any Independent Person will need to work our which complaints are genuine and which are “frivolous.”

Government changes last year have put more emphasis on investigating councillors who use their positions for financial gain, rather than petty or trivial complaints.

Anyone interested in the role should contact the Council. The closing date is Friday 29th November.

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