Council Meeting of 23/2/16, item 10 Incident.

Council Meeting of 23/2/16, item 10 Incident.

Yet another example of lack of transparency, openness and inclusiveness?  I will let you decide.

Following rumours of an altercation on the 11/2/16 and contacting officers and a Labour Councillor on the same day for information, Spennymoor Independents then had to wait almost 2 weeks for the facts.  On the 11/2/16 we asked for an urgent and full investigation and written report to be presented to Council giving the full facts of that day’s events that had resulted in police being called to Council offices.  A written request was also made to see witness statements from all staff present at the Council that day.

Upon hearing that a Labour Group meeting had been held on the evening of 11/2/16 I stated that the correct protocol should have been to call an urgent special meeting of the full Council when our Group would have been informed of the facts.  This would have been the case had the incident involved opposition members. This strikes me as cover up and contempt of elected Independent members – silence on the lead up to the Spennymoor Ward bi election perhaps?

I was appalled to see that the Agenda for the meeting of 23/2/16 was to include a verbal report only and I stated this in an e mail, giving sufficient time for this decision to be reversed. At the meeting, I stated on behalf of our Group that until written witness statements were provided and we were given time to read these at the meeting, Spennymoor Independents, Liz Maddison, Geoff Darkes, Kathy and Kevin Thompson, could not support a pre-determined decision of members of the Labour Group.  We subsequently abstained from voting on this item and moved that there be a named and recorded vote, that our comments be noted and that we expected that the decision voted upon would be recorded in the minutes.

It would have been dishonest of us to vote on a motion when we did not have a written report and witness statements that gave us all of the facts.  Had this information been presented we would have participated in the vote taking account of the responsibilities and protocols that apply to all Councillors and listed in Standing Orders under Member Code of Conduct.

Only Labour members know all of the facts.  We expect that the principal Authority (DCC) Standards Board will be presented with the written information that was denied to our Group and that an independent report is made available to all Council members within the time scale set by DCC.

Liz Maddison

on behalf of Spennymoor Independents

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