I have had an interesting read of the full document pack relating to the Standards Hearing Panel of the 2nd/22nd November.
I was at the meeting referred to in July and had an unimpeded view and to what went on and heard what was said, although I’m not going to say what happened. Since then (unfortunately) there have been many full council meetings where similar things have happened.
Why it takes 16 months for a complaint (or complaints) in this case about a councillor to go from the complaint being made to a meeting to consider a decision as to what happens next is to beyond me. Surely (especially if a councillor is considering standing down in the next year) this is just giving them a licence to misbehave without consequences?
Needless to say, during this sixteen months (and most complaints seem to take that long), officers’ time, councillors’ time and in some cases when the report isn’t written "in-house" many thousands of pounds is spent.
It seems there are two possible reasons why it is dragged out so long (even after five councillors make a complaint).
a) there is deliberate political “meddling” in the complaints process, whether directly or through officers or
b) processing complaints about councillors is not seen as a priority (or both a) and b))
The new procedure for complaints about councillors (which is to be decided by councillors and independent members of the Standards Committee this week), will hopefully make the system more understandable.
Since the MP expenses scandal, one wonders why local councils such as Wirral haven’t been forced to be more open about the expenses they pay to local councillors? Whereas I realise some may not like the extra scrutiny this would bring when staying at hotels and going on trips abroad at the taxpayer’s expense; as it stands the whole system is open to abuse.
Mind you; as some can’t even get basic arithmetic right on their election expenses forms; one wonders how they manage to fill out their expenses forms.
Two open questions to the readers (please answer in the comments – it’s not multiple choice so you can pick more than one):-
Do elected politicians behave badly because:-
a) it gets them more attention,
b) their colleagues are so they see it as acceptable,
c) they can get away with it and/or
d) they know if they do get caught nothing can be done to stop them doing it again?
Does the media act as a watchdog on our elected representatives?