Slough complains of too many complaints as Colnbrook councillors at loggerheads … again
Slough Borough Council officers are struggling to cope with an unusually high number of code-of-conduct complaints against councillors in the last six months – with two made by members of Colnbrook with Poyle Parish Council.
A new report to members of Slough Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee says the Council’s Monitoring Officer is being impacted by having to investigate an unusually high number of complaints received under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, with five complaints received in the past six months alone.
And two of those five, both made this year, have involved complaints made against an unnamed borough councillor and an unnamed parish councillor made by two Colnbrook with Poyle parish councillors.
The complaints, made by the chair, Cllr Scott Bryant, and one other councillor, allege that both have brought their office into disrepute and failed in a duty to promote high standards.
The Council’s complaints process leaves it to the Monitoring Officer to decide whether or not a complaint requires investigation. Where appropriate, complaints will be dealt with informally. But where a complaint is referred for investigation, an investigating officer’s report will be reviewed by the Monitoring Officer, who will either refer it to a specially convened Standards Determination Sub-Committee, or decide that no further action is required.
In the case of the Colnbrook complaints both councillors have been referred for investigation.
Committee members will discuss the report, by interim Monitoring Officer Linda Walker, when it meets on Thursday. It will be asked to note the impact on resourcing in particular:
“The Committee will note that there have been five complaints within a six-month period. This is a reasonably high number of complaints. There is an impact on officer time/resources in dealing with complaints, in particular where they are referred for investigation and all five were during this period”.
Four of the five complaints made were submitted by current or former councillors rather than a member of the public.
It is not the first time that Colnbrook’s councillors have found themselves at war with each other.
In April 2013 it was revealed that no less than seven complaints had been made against former councillor Charles Burke by fellow parish councillors.
In October 2013 former councillor Leslie Jarrett submitted a Code of Conduct complaint to Slough Borough Council alleging bullying by the then chair and vice-chair.
Having rejected a councillor retraining offer earlier in the year, the complaint was the final straw for the last Monitoring Officer, Kevin Gordon. He threatened special measures against the Parish should any further complaints be received – and insisted the taxpayer would have to meet the bill of any investigations.