Councillor says his suspension is now ‘a farce’

Jim Ellis
Jim Ellis

CONFUSION reigns over the controversial suspension of an opposition councillor from Wigan Council’s standards committee.

Hindley representative Jim Ellis has called the process “a farce” after he was banned from adjudicating on a series of conduct hearings for independent member Coun Bob Brierley last year.

The decision meant the hearings went ahead with an all-Labour panel as Coun Ellis is the only non-ruling party representative on the standards committee.

More than six months after the suspension, Coun Ellis, who represents Wigan Independent Network (WIN), said he has been left in limbo.

Council bosses imposed the suspension due to allegations he had leaked confidential information about the upcoming hearings to a representative of Coun Brierley.

But Coun Ellis told the Evening Post: “I have explained that I did have a conversation but nothing I said was confidential, in fact, the question I was asked by the person making the allegations, I said I didn’t know the answer.

“Everything else we talked about was already available publicly on the council’s website. They put me under pressure to submit my response as part of the investigation in January, maybe before.

“But we are six months down the line and nothing has happened. It’s ‘he said’, ‘she said’. What is there still to investigate?”

A council spokesman said Coun Ellis is free to sit on the panel for future hearings as the allegation was specific to the Coun Brierley complaints.

But this has caused confusion as the WIN member said “as far as I’m concerned, this is an indefinite suspension.”

And he claims he was not informed at the time that his suspension was a temporary one.

The series of six hearings into Coun Brierley proved controversial as many were boycotted by the independent and his representative, former councillor Peter Franzen.

He was found guilty of all six conduct breaches relating to bullying behaviour but continues to maintain his innocence.

Coun Ellis, who has represented Coun Brierley at standards hearings in the past, added: “I was the only one who had been through all the information for those hearings properly and I’m left feeling they (the council) didn’t want me in there.”

The WIN councillor was named in the committee’s list of members at the recent meeting of the full council but he claims he has not been informed that his suspension has been lifted.

Wigan Council said the allegation against him is still under investigation.