Fremington councillor suspended
FREMINGTON parish councillor John Gill has been suspended from the council for three months after being found to be in breach of its code of conduct for failing to treat others with respect. The Standards sub-committee of North Devon Council delivered i
FREMINGTON parish councillor John Gill has been suspended from the council for three months after being found to be in breach of its code of conduct for "failing to treat others with respect."
The Standards sub-committee of North Devon Council delivered its verdict following a five-hour hearing at the Civic Centre on Tuesday of last week.
The case centred on a complaint made following two Fremington Parish Council committee meetings on July 27 last year, the first of which Mr Gill chaired, when it was alleged he was "rude, bolshie and very aggressive towards another councillor and the parish clerk."
The committee concluded Mr Gill had been in breach of paragraph 3 (1) of the members' code of conduct, or failing of treat others with respect, but he was cleared of an allegation of bullying.
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He has been suspended from all parish council activities for three months unless he sends a letter of apology to the council chairman to be read out at a parish meeting.
Mr Gill said he would not be writing a letter. He told the Gazette he thought the whole process had been "over the top."
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"The Standards committee have nothing to do and they are looking to convict people.," he claimed.
"At least now I can spend my evenings trying to help the community."
Mr Gill's status as a member of North Devon Council is not affected by the decision.
Fremington councillor Dick Jones said: "I was somewhat surprised at the severity of the penalty handed out to Cllr Gill for the incident in question. But I can't comment about what happened that night because I was not present at either meeting.
"As a consequence of this decision the residents of Fremington are unable to avail themselves of John's services for the next three months."
North Devon Council monitoring officer Don Pratt told the Gazette the case had cost �5,421 and 76 hours of staff time to complete, although all such cases were dealt with in-house.
"We are following an England and Wales national statutory procedure and it is something which we have to do, we have no discretion about it," he said.
"If there is a complaint to the standards committee of this council we are required to consider it and depending on the decision, that may lead to a formal investigation of circumstances - as in this case - and a formal hearing."
Last year there were nine complaints in total, with four referred for investigation. Of these, only one led to a hearing in which a breach of the code of conduct was found.