A PROBE into the conduct and activities of a prominent Thurrock councillor is to go ahead after a ‘behind closed doors’ meeting found there was a case to answer.
Joy Redsell took the radical step of complaining about herself in a bid to clear her name after slurs about her involvement in planning issues while she served on the council’s planning committee and as Mayor.
She had called for an open and honest probe into everything she has been alleged to have done in a bid to clear the stain of innuendo from her name.
Last week at a Standards Initial Assessment sub-committee it was decided that her self-referred complaint will be investigated by the Council’s monitoring officer – though it didn’t pass it on to the national standards board, believing it best that the process be handled locally.
Before discussion on the allegations began, there was a debate among the members of the sub-committee about excluding the press and public from their discussion.
The two councillors on the four person panel said they believed Cllr Redsell would want all the discussions to be in the open, but the two lay members of the committee, including chairman Karen Boyles, elected to follow the advice of legal officer David Lawson and on her casting vote it was agreed that discussions should be held in secret.
Mr Lawson told the committee: “It is for frank discussion and legal advice and it is not normal to be held in public.”
During the initial discussions, one of the two councillors, Tory Ben Maney had said he would take part in the discussion, but not vote on a course of action. He said: “This is in relation to the self referral by
Cllr Joy Redsell who is a colleague and a friend.
“I’m also mindful that some of the things that we have been designated to look into have been laid at my door in the past and though I will contribute to the discussion I will not vote.
“However, I think this meeting should be open because Joy very publicly stated that she wanted this to be public and open.”
He was supported by Labour councillor Steve Liddiard, who said: “I have read all of the articles in the newspapers and much of this is already in the open. I am in favour of transparency.”
The fourth member, Tunde Oluwaleimu, was more cautious, saying: “We are not the judge and jury at this stage, we just need to see if it needs to be investigated.”
A statement issued after the meeting said: “The Standards Initial Assessment sub-committee decided the self-referred complaint be referred to the Monitoring Officer for investigation in the public interest. The sub-committee did not believe the complaint warranted referral to Standards for England as it could be best investigated locally and did not meet their criteria for referral.”