VIDEO: Wigan town hall meeting abandoned in chaotic scenes over councillor's conduct

An angry dispute over a councillor’s conduct saw a town hall meeting cut short.


Wigan leader Coun David Molyneux moved a vote to suspend proceedings as outspoken independent Coun Bob Brierley shouted "you’re liars" and "I’ll see you in court".

Coun Bob Brierley outside the town hall

Coun Bob Brierley outside the town hall

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Councillors had been discussing whether to approve a recommendation by the authority’s standards committee to strip Coun Brierley of a committee place.

The Hindley Green representative was found to have been in breach of the members’ code of conduct in relation to ‘outrageous and false allegations’ claiming a corrupt relationship between the town hall and a hotel firm.

Legal officers – through Mayor Susan Greensmith – had told the chamber members could discuss whether the sanction should be approved, but not what happened at the hearing, which took place in November.

Coun Brierley – who was not present at the standards hearing but maintains his innocence – had been warned about not going into details about the case.

The meeting was brought to an abrupt end amid raised voices in the chamber as members of the ruling Labour group backed Coun Molyneux’s move to suspend proceedings.

Coun Brierley said colleagues needed to "get the full facts" and called the actions of the council "a disgrace". "I’ll see you in court. And all the rest of them, you’re liars," he added.

The move to postpone the business of the meeting meant opposition motions relating to the borough’s HS2 route, calls for a new civic centre in Atherton and a request to form a cross-party group on mental health support were not heard.

Removing an elected members’ place on a town hall committee requires full council approval, the meeting had earlier been told.

The heated exchanges that followed represent the latest chapter of an ongoing dispute between Coun Brierley and the town hall.

He has been subject to several standards hearings in recent months but has maintained he is the victim of a ‘witch-hunt’.

Fellow independent councillors had earlier questioned whether the council could impose sanctions on elected members and criticised the processes of the standards committee.

Coun Steve Jones told the chamber the council cannot sanction elected members, only censure them, and he therefore would not be backing the recommendation.

He added if the result of the code of conduct hearing was taken to judicial review, the council would lose and cost taxpayers’ money.

Coun Paul Maiden, who is a ward colleague of Coun Brierley, compared the council’s process to "mob rule".

Meanwhile, Coun Michael Winstanley, leader of the opposition, said his Conservative group was concerned with the length of the proposed sanction, which would prevent Coun Brierley from being a member of a committee for the remainder of his term of office.

“As it stands at the moment, there’s no incentive to improve the behaviour,” he added.

“We would have liked to see a more staggered approach, to see if there was some improvement and then bring it back to council.”

Before the first meeting of 2019 was brought to a premature end, chair of the standards committee, Coun Charles Rigby, had outlined the important role it plays in promoting good behaviour.

Coun David Molyneux, leader of the council, said: “Motions were unable to be heard last night when the meeting had to be brought to an end unfortunately due to Coun Brierley’s totally unacceptable behaviour which disrupted proceedings and his refusal to follow the procedure. These matters will now have to be heard at a later date.”