Residents reassured over community fund

Gareth Fairhurst
Gareth Fairhurst

STANDISH residents have been told they will not miss out on community funding as a result of sanctions against a misbehaving councillor.

Coun Gareth Fairhurst was banned this week from supporting Brighter Borough funding applications for the rest of term of office.

But council officials told the Evening Post that community projects will be able to apply direct to the local authority for the outspoken councillor’s funding allocation.

A standards committee hearing this week imposed the measures on the Standish Independent representative, further punishment for not adhering to sanctions brought by the committee in May. His council-backed role as a governor at Standish High School will also be withdrawn.

Coun Fairhurst said he will be taking legal advice on the punishments and was seeking clarification as to whether his Brighter Borough funding rights had been suspended or withdrawn. Coun Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for customer transformation, said: “It is the job of Wigan Council’s standards committee to ensure that councillors abide by the code of conduct.

“This has to be through behaving responsibly and in a way which instils confidence in their ability to represent the public to the best of their ability.

“In this case, Coun Fairhurst failed to act in accordance with the code, refused to accept his punishment and showed contempt for code of conduct.

“Unfortunately, the Government’s decision to abolish the Standards Board for England has made it impossible for us to inflict tougher sanctions, though we are doing all we can to discipline those few who continue to misbehave.”

In May, the committee upheld a complaint that Coun Fairhurst had posted “defamatory” comments on a web forum about chamber colleague Coun Clive Morgan.

He had been asked to apologise and undertake training, which the committee said he had refused to do.

Monday’s hearing was told that Coun Fairhurst had informed legal officer John Mitchell that he “will not be doing any of that”.

If he complies with these original sanctions, his Brighter Borough funding punishment will be reduced to 12 months rather than until the end of his term of office in 2016.