Several code of conduct complaints in relation to various members of Alston Moor Parish Council are under investigation.
Lisa Tremble, Eden Council’s monitoring officer, told Monday’s parish council meeting: “It’s no secret to the members of this parish council and the members of the public as well that I am dealing with several complaints in relation to various members of this council.
“They are ongoing and they are all being dealt with. Not all councillors will know the extent of all of the complaints, for obvious reasons, but they are being dealt with.”
Mrs Tremble made the comment after parish council chairman Andy Holt said there was “only one” current code of conduct complaint against himself and that had been made by Alix Martin.
She was one of five Alston Moor parish councillors who resigned from the council in October after Gary Wright stood down as chairman of the council at the authority’s September meeting.
In a written statement read out at this week’s meeting, Ray Miller, who resigned alongside Ms Martin, questioned the five councillors who had voted for Mr Holt to become chairman on how it could be the “right and proper thing to do” when he had several pending complaints against him.
These were from members of the public, which are currently being investigated by Eden District Council, and from the former councillors concerning breaches of the parish council’s code of conduct.
“Can councillor Holt explain why he appeared to dial 999 during the September meeting, got a response, and then hung up without telling the operator there was no emergency,” said Mr Miller.
He added that as it looks certain that an election will be held to fill vacant seats on the council, all remaining councillors should resign so that Alston Moor can have a completely new council voted for by the community.
“If the decision is not to do this voluntarily, then a petition will take place, asking the voting public what they want to see happen.
“I have been approached by dozens of members of the public believing that this should happen as many have been present at the most recent Zoom meetings and word of mouth has spread across the parish,” said Mr Miller.
The meeting was told that Mr Miller also intends to make a further complaint to Eden Council’s monitoring officer about the way he was “shouted down and prevented from speaking” at the November meeting of the parish council.
Mr Holt said: “I certainly didn’t shout at you Ray. I have to take control of the meeting and at the last meeting it got very personal. A little bit of inexperience on my behalf, as well, as I have only been the chair of a parish council for two months.
I have undertaken a lot of training and I have gone through it and learnt a lot, which is absolutely fantastic.”
He said he could not comment on any of the complaints. If they were going to be made official, they will have to go to the monitoring officer and he would then respond accordingly.
Mr Holt said he had no intention of resigning and that there was “no case to answer” following the code of conduct complaint made against him, which had already been dealt with.
There were a couple of recommendations, but they were to remain private, he said.
Mrs Tremble, who was observing the meeting, stepped in to explain that the procedure at Eden was that the authority does not routinely publish the findings of its code of conduct investigations, but does have the ability to do so.
If freedom of information requests were made, unless they fell into an exception, on confidential data grounds, the district council would probably disclose them, she said.
“Pretty much all code of conduct complaint decision notices should be publicised and made public and that is something that Eden will be looking at in the review of our constitution,” said Mrs Tremble.