OYEZ: Councillors cleared of issues ranging from town crier appointment to the friends they keep to use of Twitter

March town crier Bernard Keane.

March town crier Bernard Keane. - Credit: Archant

THE conduct committee of Fenland District Council cleared up a backlog of complaints ranging from recruiting a town crier to friends a Cabinet member might or might not have kept.

First out of the ‘trap’ was an allegation made last July that Councillor Martin Curtis from Whittlesey had used Twitter to debate the issue of Tesco v Sainsbury “in the most controversial way”.

Councillors however decided his use of Twitter was fine and that since he excluded himself anyway from the planning committee which debate the issue there was no case to answer.

Next, a 22 page report which delved into the appointment by March Town Council of Councillor Bernard Keane as town crier and that he had been preferred over a rival candidate unfairly.

Councillor Rob Skoulding described the other candidate “as more like a joker than a town crier”.

Councillor Michael Humphrey insisted “due process was followed” although the independent member Anne Hay felt it “unfortunate” that councillors should interview another councillor for a role. All three councillors cited in the allegation- Pugh, French and Owen- were cleared.

Fourteen pages were devoted to an intemperate spat between Manea locals, Councillor Pop Jolley and Liz Dent after the latter complained about the former.

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Ms Dent works for fellow Manea resident Richard Sears who lost out to Bruce Smith’s Whitacre company in the bid to develop rival supermarkets in Whittlesey.

The allegation, described by Councillor Rob Skoulding as “tit for tat”, centred on Mr Smith’s alleged friendship and business dealing with Cllr Jolley.

Committee chairman Fred Yeulett pondered “whether we can we say there is evidence of wrong doing?” and promptly decided there wasn’t.

Councillor Will Sutton thought “on the balance of probabilities” there was no case to answer whilst Councillor Michael Humphrey thought there was “no benefit to be achieved” by pursuing the issue.

And a complaint against Councillor David Patrick over an alleged conversation in a planning matter with county councillor Steve Tierney was also dismissed.

“Any opportunity to make a complaint against a councillor is what this is all about,” said Councillor Michael Humphrey.

He pointed out that the complainant had plenty to complain about having been refused consent for a Tydd St Giles housing scheme on numerous occasions.

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