Complaints made by the public against members of Warwick District Council can cost the tax payer thousands of pounds, a councillor has said.
At a recent council meeting, Cllr Sue Gallagher (Con, Leek Wootton) made a statement about the authority’s disciplinary procedures - referring to a complaint made against her by a member of the public.
She said the complaint was made about comments she made on behalf of four of her constituents in an email about a planning application and that the matter was referred to investigation under the previous standards regime.
This took 18 months and cost her in “monetary terms and stress levels”.
Although she was found to have breached the council’s code of conduct Cllr Gallagher called for a hearing as she was of the opinion her views were factually correct and that apologising “did not seem to be right”.
The complaint was withdrawn just 12 hours before the start of the hearing, which was subsequently cancelled.
Cllr Gallagher said: “Firstly it is unfair that a complaint should be allowed to fall in this manner and it should be for the monitoring officer and the chairman of the hearing to consider if the case should be allowed to fall or if the hearing should proceed.
“Secondly, I took legal advice, at personal cost, both during the investigation and prior to the hearing and I feel that the council should have an insurance scheme to pay to councillors who are found not guilty or if the complaint falls.
“I would like to point out that just this one complaint cost the taxpayer approximately £10,000.
“I would ask that these points are considered by the working party looking into these matters.”
Cllr Norman Pratt (Con, Cubbington) said the matter would be ‘taken on board’ by the working part set up to consider the revision of the council’s code of conduct.”