The WLBC solicitor has concluded that borough councillors ought to be robust and aware of what constitutes a breach of the code of conduct. He was referring to a complaint involving Aughton & Downholland Cllr Currie . An unnamed Labour councillor made an official complaint over the behaviour of Cllr Sam Currie at a council meeting in October 2017, in which he criticised another councillor before repeating his comments in a subsequent press release.
Cllr Currie, who ran disastrously as the Parliamentary candidate in West Lancashire in last year’s General Election when he was crushed by Rosie Cooper, had questioned if another councillor had stepped down from a committee role due to living too far away, and whether doing so was fair to those living in her ward. In an official complaint the Aughton and Downholland councillor was accused of failing to treat the other councillor with respect, failing to treat the mayor with respect by not stopping speaking when asked, and also of bringing his office or the council into disrepute.
After being cleared of any misconduct by a West Lancashire Borough Council solicitor, Cllr Currie hit out at Labour for wasting the council’s time and money on the complaint which involved an independent adjudicator overseeing the process.
He said he only learnt of the complaint after receiving a letter clearing him of any breach of the code. He said “How can this be conducive to local government when on the one hand they’re complaining about the government cutting back on local government resources and on the other they’re frivolously wasting money on spurious complaints? I think there should be complete transparency and to not be able to ask questions is not transparent”.
Responding to the criticism Cllr Ian Moran , the leader of the Labour-run council, said the complaint was made by an individual councillor and that he had absolutely no problem with them doing so. He also pointed to previous complaints made by Conservative councillors which have also resulted in no misconduct being found.
He said “Councillors are entitled to put complaints in. If you look at the past record, most of the complaints have been from Conservatives so I think he needs to refresh his memory. He is entitled to jump up and down but I’m happy with our stance”.
It was left to the decision of the borough’s solicitor to argue that a degree of ‘robustness’ is expected of those holding office and that nothing which was alleged to have been said would have constituted a breach of the code of conduct. Ultimately, he argued, the threshold required for a breach of the code was ‘much higher’ than what was alleged. Perhaps Currie might wonder if he is so thin skinned as to be unsuitable for public office? Probably!