Councillor to boycott hearings

Bob Brierley
Bob Brierley

A WIGAN councillor is to boycott a series of standards hearings scrutinising his behaviour due to concerns he is not being given a fair trial.

Coun Bob Brierley was yesterday found guilty of “intimidatory and/or bullying” behaviour toward a council officer in the second of six scheduled hearings.

The Hindley Green ward independent has called for the remaining investigations into his alleged conduct breaches to be conducted independently and plans to refer the verdicts so far to judicial review.

Last week the standards panel, which is made-up of all Labour councillors following the suspension of Coun Jim Ellis, found that Coun Brierley had acted in a intimidatory manner toward volunteers at the Pelican Centre in Tyldesley.

Yesterday’s hearing found the outspoken member guilty again of similar behaviour, this time directed toward an off-duty council employee.

For the second week in a row the proceedings were conducted behind closed doors as public and press were barred due to concerns over the identification of witnesses.

Coun Brierley, who did not attend yesterday’s hearing in protest of his treatment, said they were a “slap in the face for democracy”.

He had left the first hearing last week after his requests to have it held in public and to make a personal recording were rebuffed by the panel.

In a post-hearing statement issued by the council, the complainant, who was not named, is reported to have said: “I was walking the dog with my daughter when Coun Brierley pulled up in his car.

“He saw me enter the field and he was still there waiting for me when I returned to my car. He pulled up alongside my car and started shouting abuse at me.

“I remember him saying that as soon as Labour was out he’d be my boss and I’d have to work for him. My daughter was really upset and shaken afterwards and couldn’t understand why he’d been so horrible – I had to explain that not all councillors are like that.

“In my role I work quite closely with councillors, the majority of whom are a pleasure to work with.

“Unfortunately this incident has made it very difficult for me to work with Coun Brierley, he’s never apologised for the incident and ignores me.”

Ex-councillor Peter Franzen, who represents Coun Brierley, has written to the council detailing concerns about how the hearings are being conducted.

The letter, seen by the Evening Post, said: “With regard to all forthcoming hearings I advise that we require all investigations to be conducted by accredited investigators fully independent of Wigan Council.

“In the event of your failure to do so we reserve the right to seek a judicial review, to report the matter to the Local Authority Ombudsman for maladministration and to report the panel members and complicit council officers to Greater Manchester Police for misconduct in public office.”

Coun Brierley’s next hearing, which is expected to take place in his absence once again, is scheduled to take place on October 15.