In his own words, under fire councillor Simon King explains why HE is bringing a complaint AGAINST Fenland District Council

PUBLISHED: 18:43 24 February 2018

Council meeting in March - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry Rutter

Council meeting in March - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry Rutter

Archant

Under fire councillor Simon King has explained – by letter – why he is has mounted a challenge against a Fenland District Council conduct committee probe into his expense claims.

Cllr Simon King - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry RutterCllr Simon King - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry Rutter

The Wisbech councillor – whose complaint about the conduct of officers has led to a scheduled heading being postponed – explained his position in two letters.

In the first he sets out some of the background to his refusal to accept he has done anything wrong.

And in the second letter – effectively a copy of his Fenland District Council – he explains why he believes officers acted improperly in their dealings with him.

Unedited, here are the two letters sent to me, as Editor of both the Cambs Times and Wisbech.

Cllr Simon King - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry RutterCllr Simon King - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry Rutter

Dear John.

Please see the attached complaint against FDC. As you have gathered this has been a fairly long standing disagreement and at its heart is a claim form (and policy) that do not support officers’ interpretations.

Over the last eight years some claims have been accepted and at other times similar claims have not. In researching these claims I have found at least one meeting I attended and never claimed for.

I believe there are two claims over the eight yeas that were disallowed because I did not attend the meetings in question. One which was a simple mistake for which I was never re-imbursed and for which I have apologised unreservedly. I cannot remember the circumstances of the other, however I was never re-imbursed for that either. Proof of meeting attendance is often dependent on a signing-in sheet which is not always fully circulated (for example if someone arrives late or leaves early). All of the other mileage I claimed was in accordance with the claim form and policy and was checked and generally paid by officers.

Paul Medd, chief executive of FDC (right) with chairman Kay Mayor - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry RutterPaul Medd, chief executive of FDC (right) with chairman Kay Mayor - 22/02/2018 Photo: Harry Rutter

Much has been made of a taxi claim to King’s Lynn. I had promised my constituents to speak at a Planning Meeting against the proposed development in Norfolk behind the B&Q in Wisbech. As my wife had accidentally taken my car keys to Kent, the only way I could get to the meeting on time was by taxi. Naturally I caught the bus back.

I was first made aware of the Google maps requirement last November so it cannot be right to blame me for claims I made before officers invented this ‘policy’. I do not believe it is arrogance to insist that policies can only be made by councillors and not officers.

Best wishes,

Simon

HERE IS THE LETTER COUNCILLOR KING SENT TO PAUL MEDD, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF FENLAND CUNCIL

19th February 2018

Dear Paul,

I wish to make a formal complaint against Fenland District Council for failure to act in a proper and lawful manner in the formulation, investigation and pursuance of a complaint made against me in relation to my expense claims. The specific matters giving rise to this complaint are the following:

1. The Members’ Mileage policy was not followed, by disallowing claims I made for travelling to and from council meetings from elsewhere than my home

2. The Members’ Mileage policy was not followed by disallowing claims for more than the shortest Google maps distance

3. The Code of Conduct policy and the legislation was not followed by the Monitoring Officer in referring this to the police as this was not a non-disclosure of a pecuniary interest

4. The Code of Conduct policy was not followed by the Monitoring Officer by involving the Independent Person before the pre-sift stage

5. Fenland District Council failed to comply with Section 28 (4) of the Localism Act 2011, in that a complaint of a breach of the code of conduct should be dealt with under the conduct procedure and not otherwise

6. The Monitoring Officer failed to differentiate her roles as Head of Member Services and the Monitoring Officer

7. The Monitoring Officer misunderstood the application of Section 5 (2) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, and she purported to deal with a complaint arising under the Code of Conduct in her capacity as Monitoring Officer

8. The Monitoring Officer in acting (albeit improperly) under Section 5 Local Government and Housing Act 1989, compounded her error by failing to act in accordance with the requirements of that Section.

9. The Monitoring Officer has nominated a person who is not employed by Fenland District Council to act as Deputy Monitoring Officer contrary to Sub-section (7) of Section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

As this flawed process and baseless allegations have seriously damaged my reputation, the redress I expect from Fenland District Council is to purchase the front page of both local papers to print an apology and retraction. I also require reimbursement of all the expenses I have necessarily incurred both now and until this matter is concluded, to be reimbursed.

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