Councillor faces standards committee behind closed doors

Town hall bosses have said a councillor breached conduct rules but mystery surrounds a behind-closed-doors standards hearing held this week.

Friday, 25th November 2016, 10:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:40 pm
Bob Brierley

Hindley Green independent Coun Bob Brierley faced the standards committee on Wednesday but the proceedings were closed to the public and the press.

Wigan Council yesterday said the controversial councillor had been found guilty of two code of conduct breaches but offered few details from the hearing.

But Coun Brierley’s representatives said he had been cleared of some of the allegations - including acting in a bullying or aggressive manner - and the council’s statement was a “narrow interpretation” of the proceedings.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

No further action in terms of punishment or sanctions is understood to have been placed on Coun Brierley.

The Evening Post understands the complaint related to Coun Brierley becoming involved in a domestic dispute but no further details have been released.

Brendan Whitworth, assistant director for legal, told the Evening Post: “A member of the public lodged a complaint against Coun Robert Brierley and a standards hearing found him guilty of two counts of breaching the code of conduct. These included using his position as a councillor inappropriately and bringing the council into disrepute.”

Coun Brierley, an often outspoken independent councillor who was voted in for another term of office this year, was represented at the hearings by former colleague Jim Ellis.

Mr Ellis told the Evening Post: “To say Mr Brierley breached two counts of the code is a very narrow interpretation, it’s very unfair. He was put in an awkward situation.

“These are technical breaches and no further action will be taken as a result of them.”

Mr Ellis also argued that Coun Brierley had been treated unfairly as the complaint had been made in January 2015 and the town hall had caused it to be unnecessarily delayed.

A council spokesman added that the standards committee decided that Coun Brierley would benefit from training to support him “in dealing with wider issues raised by the complainant.”

When contacted by the Evening Post, Coun Brierley said he was under the impression the training would be offered to all councillors, not just himself.