Update: Warwick councillor asked to apologise after panel finds she breached district council’s code of conduct
And, as a result, Cllr Linda Bromley (Ind, Warwick West) has been asked to apologise to fellow councillors, the council’s chief executive Chris Elliott, council officers and Warwick resident Lydia Turpin.
The authority had appointed an investigator in respect of complaints about the conduct of Cllr Bromley and held a hearing at Leamington town hall today (Friday).
The hearing panel, made up of councillors Judy Falp (Ind, Whitnash), Norman Pratt (Con, Cubbington) and Sidney Syson (Lib Dem, Leamington Milverton) and guided by an independent advisor, agreed with the findings of investigating officer Peter Oliver, who said Cllr Bromley failed to adhere to the code in respect of all three complaints.
The first complaint, made by the council’s chief executive Chris Elliot, was about Cllr Bromley’s actions in contacting ADT project manager Chris Neville, who was carrying out work to install CCTV and lighting for the council at St Nicholas Park.
Mr Oliver said: “In respect of that complaint I find that Cllr Bromley failed to adhere to conditions of the code of conduct firstly by approaching a council contractor she failed to work constructively with council staff in that she should have gone to the staff directly.”
The second, also made by Mr Elliott, concerned Cllr Bromley’s alleged failure to acknowledge that she had received and understood the council’s new code of conduct after she failed to respond to several emails from senior committee services officer Graham Leach.
And the third complaint was due to allegations Cllr Bromley had failed to adhere to the code of conduct relating to objectivity, honesty and accountability when questioning Miss Turpin - formerly of the Jackie Turpin Amateur Boxing Club - during the consideration of a Warwick Community Forum grant application for the club at a public meeting in October 2012.
Mr Oliver said: “After Miss Turpin had made the application she was questioned by a number of people including Cllr Bromley and the allegations are that the councillor’s questioning was inappropriate and disrespectful in its manner.
“I conclude that the manner of some of the questioning towards Miss Turpin were inappropriate for a meeting of that nature based on the evidence I have from those present.”
Cllr Bromley hired solicitor John Hathaway of Heath and Blenkinsop in Warwick to represent her at the hearing.
He responded to each of the complaints and allegations on her behalf.
In regard to the first, he said: “It is my submission that Cllr Bromley made an approach to ADT in her role as a member of the management committee of the Friends of St Nicholas Park.
“The information required is consistent with the friends’ policies and the friends’ concerns for members of the community.
“The disclosure, which it would have been improper not to make, that she is a councillor does not mean that she is acting in that role.”
In the case of all three complaints Mr Hathaway said the facts surrounding the complaints were “not in dispute” but questioned the need for complaints having been made.
Addressing the second he said: “There are no provisions being statutory under the 2011 Act or within the new Code adopted by the Warwick District Council imposing on an existing Councillor a duty to acknowledge the new Code or an understanding of the Code.
“There is a statutory obligation to return within 28 days Part B, the disclosure of pecuniary interest. “Councillor Mrs Bromley completed and returned by hand Part B on 28th July 2012.
“She did not and does not wish to show any disrespect to her fellow councillors, including members of the standards committee.
“There are no breaches of the code or of the statutory requirements.
And in response to the complaint made by Miss Turpin, Mr Hathaway said: “In the prevailing circumstances in a public forum set out to consider and defray public funds, Cllr Bromley was entitled, and it was appropriate for her, to question Lydia Turpin.
“The questions and the manner of the questioning by Cllr Mrs Bromley do not show a lack of respect for the complainant.
“Cllr Bromley acted in a correct and prudent manner in endeavouring to establish the circumstances surrounding an application for public funds.”
Cllr Bromley has been asked to apologise in writing to Miss Turpin, Mr Leach, district council officer Ian Coker, Mr Elliott and members of the standards committee through the chairman.