One for the voters of Wadebridge
There is a councillor in Cornwall who can thank Eric Pickles for the fact that he is still allowed to turn up to meetings and claim his attendance allowance. In October 2011, Collin Brewer, an independent county councillor from Wadebridge, in north Cornwall, was annoyed for some reason by an exhibition stand in county hall. It was Disability Cornwall, a charity which looks after children with special needs. “Disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down,” he announced.
The councillor later told the West Briton newspaper that he had said it to “provoke a reaction.” The only reaction he got, inevitably, was a formal complaint.
At that time, there was a body known as Standards for England, which policed councillors and had the power to punish that kind of behaviour but Eric Pickles was in the process of abolishing it, on the grounds that it was contrary to the government’s ‘localism’ agenda, though the real reason may have been more to do with saving money.
This left Cornwall County Council’s Monitoring Officer unsure of what he was supposed to do. After many months’ delay, the county council reached the conclusion that they can do nothing at all, except demand an apology, which Councillor Brewer has given. The other independent councillors have disowned him but he cannot be removed.
It is not a good situation but would it be any better if a quango staffed by civil servants from London could sack an elected councillor in Cornwall? I think not. Let the voters of Wadebridge sort this one out.
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