‘Threat’ claim thrown out

Gareth Fairhurst
Gareth Fairhurst

A LABOUR councillor accused of making a threat to an opposition member at a Wigan Council meeting will not face disciplinary action.

Standish Independents leader Gareth Fairhurst lodged a complaint against Coun Sharratt about remarks made at Leigh Town Hall in November.

But the council’s monitoring officer has informed Coun Fairhurst the case will not be taken forward as the comment was not deemed to be threatening language.

When contacted by the Evening Post, Coun Sharratt, who represents Ince ward, said she had nothing to add to the ruling and has maintained the words she used were not issued as a threat.

However, Coun Fairhurst has accused the town hall of displaying double standards given the decision for Coun Brierley to face a standards hearing for allegedly using a swear word in a council meeting. He told the Evening Post: “The bloke in the street will know nothing about this process but will see one incident that has taken 14 months to investigate and will go to a hearing (Coun Brierley’s) and this one.

“The council has said (Coun Sharratt) was previously a carer and that’s why she said what she did.

“On that basis they will have to take into account previous employment on all complaints.

“The bias and double standards of this council is shocking.”

The exchange leading to the complaint occurred as Coun Fairhurst was addressing the chamber on the government’s Trade Union Bill and changes to strike action ballots.

Discussing strikes by hospital workers, he said: “If one of you got seriously ill, would you say, it’s okay, don’t treat me, I know you’re on strike. Or would you want somebody there to treat your family member, I know I would.”

At this point, a female councillor’s voice can be heard to say: “We can make arrangements for it.”

Coun Fairhurst then tells the mayor that he has taken the remark as a physical threat “to put him in hospital”.

Coun Bob Brierley, who is an independent representative for Hindley Green, is accused of using a swear word to refer to a Labour councillor and will face a code of conduct hearing next month having denied using the term.