Councillor did breach code of conduct, standards panel rules
A FILTON town councillor lost his temper during a heated council debate, a hearing was told.
Roger Hutchinson was shouting and bawling and slammed the table with his hand, a panel of South Gloucestershire Council's Standards Committee heard yesterday.
They decided Mr Hutchinson breached a code of conduct for failing to treat fellow councillors with respect. But they did not impose any sanction against him as they concluded that other councillors behaved in the same manner at the meeting on November 25, 2008.
Mr Hutchinson, a long-serving Labour councillor, alleged he had been singled out for political reasons.
Under discussion at the council meeting had been the setting up of a working party to look into the running of the Ratepayers' Arms, a controversial town council-owned pub in the leisure complex at Elm Park.
The council chairman at the time was another Labour town councillor, Terry Pomroy, who had grave concerns about the way the pub was run because it lost so much money.
Mr Hutchinson also breached the code for failing to declare an interest in the town council's controversial cycle speedway track when it was discussed at a meeting in May, 2006.
But again, the panel decided no sanction was appropriate as Mr Hutchinson had admitted the breach and apologised. He had also since updated the council's register of interests.
The findings were made by the panel after a nine-hour hearing in Thornbury, which also heard an allegation that Mr Hutchinson used foul and abusive language. The panel decided this claim was unfounded and it was dropped.
Afterwards, Mr Hutchinson, who also sits on South Gloucestershire Council, said he was "utterly relieved". He said he had lived with the accusations for 15 months and now felt vindicated by the panel's decision. He said it had not put him off serving as a councillor and was standing as a candidate in the May's local elections. He also hopes to stand as a town councillor.
Labour town councillor Adam Monk, who gave evidence at the hearing and was alleged to be the victim of the abusive language, said he respected the panel's decision.
The complaints were brought by Mr Pomroy and his wife, Helen, who have since moved to the Cotswolds. Mr Pomroy told the panel he did not submit his complaint until 13 months after the council meeting, partly because of an internal inquiry by his party. He said on several occasions council meetings were so badly behaved, he had to threatened to close them.
He said: "You expect some banter during heated debates but not swearing like this."
Mr Hutchinson categorically denied using foul language as alleged.
Panel chairman Mrs Phylida Pyper said: "We've noted the problems of the town council and would advise that many could have been avoided by an on-going review of their standing orders." She listed several procedural measures which should be taken to ensure smoother running of the council.