Posted by: westlancashirerecord | June 12, 2017

New Aughton Park Councillor Conspicuous By Her Absence

The absence of all the Aughton borough and county councillors at the Aughton Parish Council  meeting tonight was a reminder of how little regard at least three of them, residents of Halsall, physically demonstrate to Aughton’s residents. The Westleyphants were not in the room, although LCC Cllr Greenall sent apologies. Elected just a few days ago, Stephenson immediately missed an opportunity to learn about some major issues affecting the ward, especially Parrs Lane development, and Long Lane speeding issues. I guess she will have to read WLR regularly to know about life in Aughton Park!

During her tenure of the Halsall Ward borough seat, Doreen Stephenson was often the subject of complaints, notably in 2013 when she became the subject of a formal complaint relating to four issues. They were an alleged failure to comply with the Code of Conduct, an alleged breach of the Principles of Openness and Accountability, an alleged lack of Accountability and Integrity, and an alleged lack of Honesty, Openness and Integrity. These incidents allegedly occurred in July, August, September, and October 2013 at parish and public meetings and were witnessed.

In essence, the formal complaint was relative to the Councillor’s alleged conduct as parish and borough councillor and her alleged attitude and responses to the public. It sought removal of the Councillor from all public office. At the October meeting of the Halsall Parish Council it was alleged, recorded, and reported the Councillor shouted “I am glad that woman has left” in response to the Complainant being upset by a previous alleged remark that “I will not be pushed out and if you had all handled the situation differently the outcome would have been different” in reply to a question in respect of her not representing residents’ views.

In the Official Response there is included a particular reference made by the Monitoring Officer that “…however, the comment that the Subject Member is alleged to have made when the Complainant left the room is likely to be a breach of the respect provision in paragraph 3.1 of the Code”. It then stated “I do not consider that the four issues raised in the complaint could reasonably be dealt with by local resolution, e.g. by way of an apology or other remedial action. Having regard to the Complaint, the seriousness of the allegations as set out at (i) and (ii) above, balancing the interests of good governance in undertaking or completing an investigation into these four issues in the complaints and all relevant matters the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Independent Person has decided that no action should be taken on these allegations.

“In determining this, regard was had to the significant cost of an investigation against the “value” of a finding of breach which, in these circumstances under the current standards regime, would provide limited available sanctions to the Standards Committee. It is noted that the remedy sought by the Complainant is not a sanction that is available to the Standards Committee under the current regime”.

The cost of investigation versus the value of a “limited sanction” won out! We asked “does that mean our councillors should pick their offences carefully so as to avoid a sanction, apart from the ballot box whenever that might be for them as individuals and could be one/two/three years away?”…and now we know even the ballot box is no remedy for dross. Representation of the people? Pull the other one!

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