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Coleen Gill (2)


The previous post has all the details. Lets have a look at the things according to the APE that Coleen should not have done:

  • Attended a meeting without declaring she is a councillor. This is badly flawed. Council Officers should behave the same way regardless of whether or not a councillor is in the room. However, people do not do this. It is, therefore, useful for councillors to act as "mystery customers" to check that people are doing what they should.
  • Written to an MP before exhausting all the local procedures. Ho Ho Ho.
  • Advocated on behalf of someone. If one writes a letter to the council on behalf of someone with the information they have provided, this will almost unvariably be taken at face value (ie unverified) and partisan (ie not having all the facts). If it is required that a) one verifies all information and b) always provides both sidesof the story then you cannot do anything.
  • Turned up at a meeting when told not to do by a council officer.

The key tension in government, particularly local government, is between councillors and officers. Many officers would like councillors not to exist.

The theory behind the actions of the APE and the SBE appears to be that Officers always do the right thing for the best possible reason. If that were to be the case then there would be no need for any democratic accountability. Unsurprisingly in the real world this is not the case.

One of the big flaws with the Standards Code is that people are guilty of breaking it even if someone believes they might have done something wrong - whether or not they have done something wrong

The bringing into disrepute issue is again not an objective test, but a subjective one. One person's disrepute (in this instance) is the vast majority of the population's proper behaviour.

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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