Thursday, 25 November 2010

Barnet councillor wants residents' money for legal fees

A request has been made to Barnet council to cover the legal fees of a councillor facing a standards committee hearing. The actual wording is:
That the Committee consider a request by a Member to be provided with an indemnity for costs incurred upon their own choice of legal representation in respect of dealing with a complaint concerning an alleged breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
The last time this happened, the council was asked to cover the high costs of a lawyer for Brian Coleman (reported in the Times series here). Coleman lost, by the way.

So, who is this councillor facing a standards committee hearing? Will they win? And how much will it cost us?

P.S. Some of the details of the request would be truly hilarious if they weren't so outrageous. How about this:
4. RISK MANAGEMENT ISSUES

...Members and Officers who do not believe that they will be indemnified whilst performing their duties for the Council, may not be willing to undertake those duties, if they consider that they may be held personally liable for costs associated with proceedings lodged in connection with matters relating to their Council duties.

5. EQUALITIES AND DIVERSITY ISSUES

5.1 The proposals in this report address an issue that potentially impedes Members from participating fully in public service within the wider community.

3 comments:

Daniel Hope said...

I've mulled over this report for most of the day and my concern has moved from my initial thoughts, that were the same as yours, to a bigger concern.

How can we have a member of the Standards Committee, which is charged with maintaining ethics and enforcing the Code of Conduct, who is being investigated by that very same Committee.

So surely whoever of Councillors Andreas Tambourides, Wendy Prentice, Claire Farrier, Agnes Slocombe, Monroe Palmer or Jack Cohen is being investigated should immediately resign from the Standards Committee until this is all over. It is imperative that those not being investigated clear their names publicly to remove them from suspicion. I look forward to receiving their emails.

It is important to note that at this time not only have complaint, or complaints, been made against this Councillor but a sub-committee of the Standards Committee have deemed the allegation sufficiently serious to warrant instructing the Monitoring Officer carry out a full investigation.

On another level, it is quite worrying this meeting has been held in complete secrecy. The report you quote states a sub-committee met on 14 September 2010 yet the Council's calendar shows no meeting of a sub-committee since June 2010. Why?

It is my understand that it is a legal requirement to publish the agenda frontsheet for this meeting. Why is nothing on the website?

Mrs Angry said...

Dan, and Vicki,I mentioned in a blog on the 8th October, 'In a dark place' that I had seen an intriguing reference on an agenda for a meeting the next Monday,relating to a complaint by one councillor against another, which was the only allegation to the standards committee referred on to the next level of the process. I was surprised that no one else picked this up: God knows what it is about, and of course our local press appear not to have noticed.

Moaneybat said...

"On another level, it is quite worrying this meeting has been held in complete secrecy."

Daniel, for once you are right!

The real issue. We think because of a few freedoms we live in a democracy that is transparent? Note some of the exclusions and think again how those we elect manage us. Sign of the times throughout Europe and Britain and a slight drift to the 'Right' even from the Left.

Mrs Angry,

I read your piece 'in a dark place'

You touch on it quite often in your own blogs, though it might be in a local context, it applies wider, go that bit further it will upset some but at least it begins a debate.