COUNCIL IS UNDER FIRE

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ACTION has been taken against a local authority after a councillor alleged he was “grabbed” and a chair was thrown at a meeting.

To make matters worse, Faldingworth Parish Council’s vice-chairman is refusing to follow professional advice about how to improve the running of the council, which means it risks being brought into disrepute.

Faldingworth councillor Andrew Farmer made a formal complaint about council chairman Trevor Howard and vice-chairman Andrew Longdon – he accused them of stifling democracy by ignoring residents’ views, procedural rules and the “principles of open government”.

Coun Farmer alleged Coun Howard had grabbed him by the shoulders and he complained about a chair-throwing incident involving the chairman.

At one meeting earlier this year police had to be called after someone claimed they had been assaulted – this has since been investigated and the case discontinued.

But Coun Longdon says none of the allegations are true and is furious he was not consulted before action was taken.

West Lindsey District Council’s standards committee considered Coun Farmer’s complaints and referred them for “other action” – a ‘health check’ done by an independent assessor to work out what needs to be done to make improvements at the parish council. This is due to be completed at the end of this month.

It decided to do this after seeing evidence of a “poor” understanding of the code of conduct and general procedures throughout a “significant” part of the council.

A WLDC report said there was a risk council business would not be done properly – and this could affect public confidence in elected members.

But Coun Longdon refuses to comply. He said: “I do not accept the ‘other action’ from West Lindsey District Council because they’ve not given me an opportunity to respond to the complaint.

“They’ve just taken the complaint and made this decision without my response – the allegations aren’t true.

“I’ve told them (WLDC) I will not go along with the health check process because they made the decision without us. It’s giving credence to these complaints but they haven’t asked us to respond to it. I refuse to go along with it.

“They’re taking the easy way out by saying ‘we’ll give them a health check’.

“The whole thing is terribly biased towards the complainant.”

Coun Longdon said he was aware failure to comply could bring the authority into disrepute and said: “They can’t sack us because we’re elected.”

Chairman Trevor Howard refused to comment and Couns Andrew Farmer, David Waine and Alan Price said they were not in a position to comment at this stage.

The Rasen Mail was unable to contact the other parish councillors before we went to press yesterday.

A West Lindsey District Council spokesman said Coun Longdon would only be interviewed as part of a formal investigation, which had not been done.