Councillor guilty of intimidating council employee

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COUNILLOR Robert Brierley, independent ward member for Hindley Green, has been found guilty of breaching Wigan Council’s code of conduct after intimidating a council employee.

This week’s hearing, which took place yesterday, (Tuesday 4th November) was the final of six hearings held each week since the beginning of October, against Cllr Brierley, who failed to attend.

The panel decided there was sufficient information to proceed without him. The meeting was held in private to protect the identity of the complainant and witnesses involved.

At yesterday’s hearing the panel heard how Cllr Brierley had intimidated and harassed a council employee after complaining that another former labour councillor had been given a pass to gain access to the town hall. Cllr Brierley, accused the officer of political bias, though he did not request a pass. The officer informed their manager, who submitted a complaint.

After the initial incident Cllr Brierley called the officer to apologise and asked him to withdraw his complaint as he was worried he would lose his Brighter Borough funding. He called him again a few weeks later to ask if he had withdrawn his complaint. On the third occasion, he presented the complainant with a recording of the original incident and asked him to reconsider his complaint.

The complainant claimed they felt intimidated by Councillor Brierley’s behaviour.

After hearing the evidence, the panel found Cllr Brierley guilty of subjecting the complainant to intimidating behaviour and therefore breached paragraphs 3.1 (c-i) and 6 (d) of the members’ code of conduct and paragraph 4.4 – 4.6 of the protocol on member/officer relations.

Lesley O’Halloran, assistant director for customer services at Wigan Council, submitted the complaint on behalf of the officer. She said: “I am absolutely appalled by Cllr Brierley’s behaviour towards a hardworking member of staff and it simply isn’t acceptable. I’m pleased that the board has investigated this complaint and I hope it will go some way in preventing Cllr Brierley from behaving this way in future.”

The coalition government abolished the Standards Board for England as part of the Localism Bill in 2012. As a result local authorities no longer have the power to suspend or disqualify councillors who bully, are rude, or disclose confidential information.