Tory leader slams complaints system as racism claim thrown out

THURROCK Conservative Leader Rob Gledhill is again calling for changes to the reporting of Councillor complaints after an allegation of racism against him were dismissed following an independent review.

Rob said "Towards the end of last year, and unfortunately not for the first time, I was accused by a particular resident of being a racist, an allegation that has been found to be untrue. Previously someone claiming to be the same person called my place of work making similar allegations, clearly hoping to cause trouble. I am unable to name the person or the issue that led to the complaint but I am hoping, now I have been cleared of any wrongdoing, that these repeated false allegations will stop."

In 2010 the coalition government scraped the Standards Board For England, a QUANGO costing the taxpayer over £20 million a year, and decided all complaints against Councillors be dealt with locally. However, subsequent guidance has meant the outcome of complaints against Councillors can remain secret. Despite allegations made against Councillors not normally being made public, the Conservative Leader has spoken out to hopefully change this approach.

Rob added "After scraping the Standards Board, complaints against Councillors were supposed to be open and transparent to help residents better decide if their Councillors’ are worthy of re election.

"Unfortunately this isn’t the case; in Thurrock only a bland report containing the number of complaints and whether they were upheld is produced annually and in my opinion this just isn’t transparent enough. In most cases when the independent panel who set judgment on these complaints make a decision, it should be made public, either putting the issue to rest or allowing appropriate action to be taken by the Councillors’ political group – more importantly by the residents who vote for them!

"We must be more open about Councillor complaints and I am working with officers to see what can be done to ensure the process is made more transparent and that the outcomes of the complaints since the changes are made public."

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