Thursday, November 21, 2013

We Seek Him Here - We Seek Him There

'We seek him here, we seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? 
Is he in hell? 
That damned, elusive Pimpernel'

Readers of yesterday's column, will have seen that I had submitted a question for next month's Council meeting to Labour's Cabinet member, Cllr Michelle Fenner, asking if it would be appropriate for the Council's Diversity Champion. Cllr John Worrow, to stand aside, until the results of a police investigation had been completed and he had cleared his name.

This question may have caused a brief panic, because subsequently, I have received an email from the Council's democratic services officer that the question has been disallowed on the following grounds:

"The Monitoring Officer has ruled this question out on the grounds that it breaches the following part of the Council Procedure Rules:

“14.5 A question shall not be:

…related to the ethical conduct of individual Members of Council unless the conduct relates to the Member acting as a Member of the Council.

I see on Twitter, that at the Council's Planning Committee last evening, Cllr Worrow, did not appear to represent his Birchington constituents on an application that he had called in. I find this remarkable, much like a barrister not appearing in court to represent his client. Normally one would ask if it were possible for another ward Councillor to substitute in unavoidable personal circumstances.

While, like Cllr Tom King before me, I'm clearly not permitted to challenge Cllr Fenner in Council in regard to the role of her cherished Diversity Champion, I would ask her to consider whether the position remains tenable in the sensitive circumstances of an on-going investigation?

Cllr Worrow is also the Chair of the Council's Finance and Audit Committee, one of the three most senior and best remunerated committees in Thanet District Council. Do we take it that he will not be appearing to chair meetings there either?

In such circumstances, it may be in the public interest for the Labour administration to clearly state their position on their appointment, which, in tandem with Cllr Cohen, Cllr Worrow's TIG colleague, has kept the minority Labour administration in political control of the Council.

The Council's Standards Committee meets tonight at 7pm to further discuss the report raised this week. I plan to attend.


Barry James said...

Has any reason been given. I ask this because he was supposed to be one of the mebers of the Task & Finish Group looking at Pleasurama and has not turned up to any of the meetings and no apologies were given either.
Didn't this no show happen a little while ago when a member absconded to South America? How did this get resolved?

Simon Moores said...

South America was rather different. In this case the Cllr was not facing a criminal investigation but rather, his work took him to Panama and unexpectedly then kept him there. He subsequently resigned when it was clear that he would be unable to discharge his political duties at home and a by-election was called. he was not on any vital committees either.

The Council tries to avoid by-elections because of the costs which is one reason why wards have more than one councillor

Anonymous said...

While I have mixed feelings over whether he should stand down or not, what happens if he's later proved innocent? Presumably him standing down now would hand TDC control back to the Tories, so if he returned in a few months time it would then go back to Labour again. Surely none of this would benefit the people of Thanet?

Simon Moores said...

Call me old fashioned but if one is the subject of a grave allegation leading to a police investigation, I believe a politician of integrity should stand aside until vindicated. Sadly in Thanet this is too often not the case.

Alasdair Bruce said...

I was there in the gallery on behalf of my Birchington constituents to ensure this matter was dealt with properly. This was an application recommend for refusal by officers and parish of which cllr Worrow is a member, yet he saw fit to waste officer and committee time, and ratepayers money preparing this application for committee and then failed to turn up. I'm sure the chair would have berated a councillor from another party for pulling the same stunt, yet remained silent over his party members no show.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried leaving a message on his answerphone?

Alasdair Bruce said...

The onus is on the councillor to make arrangements if he/she cannot attend, not for others to chase them up!

Anonymous said...

Whether you like him or not Bruce, at the end of the day he is a colleague who you work with! Surely common courtesy would be to give him a call to see how he's doing?

Simon Moores said...

I think the last experience of a Cllr leaving a message for Cllr Worrow was probably a lesson to all in best leave alone.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that this a message was altered in order that Ken Gregory was falsely accused of homophobic hate ?

Anonymous said...

Did cllr ezeikel resign his post during his period of 'innocent until proven guilty'?

Simon Moores said...

6:11 I trust you will note my earlier reference to a "politician of integrity?"

5:34 While Ken Gregory was accused I don't recollect him being charged with anything. Do you?

William Epps said...

Cllr Ezekiel resigned from the Conservative group and held no office during the period he was pending trial. Thus he did not disrupt the workings of the council.

Cllr Worrow, on the other hand, holds the office of the council's Diversity Champion as well as the chair of a committee. It is from these roles he should stand down, albeit remaining a councillor.

Alasdair Bruce said...

3.46, common courtesy in this context might considered an oxymoron, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

And you still wonder why the public has this negative perception of local cllrs Alistair!

Anonymous said...

I, personally, am embarrassed by the conduct of both Worrow and Driver. Now that the TDC is being mentioned on BBC news as a corrupt and secretive council, I regret bothering to vote at all. Can't Worrow and Driver see what they are doing to the very area that they claim to represent. If this is the best Thanet can produce, I certainly will not bother voting again here.

Tim Clark said...

1 see the solution to the inconvenient Independent Standards report was to reject it and hound the four Independent members into resignation. My, you must all becso proud of yourselves. Don't blame it all on Driver and Worrow. The Ezekiel conviction did serious damage to the local Tory group, not helped by the Gregory outburst, or councillors in Panama. It doesn't matter why he was in Panama; it's the perception that counts. Add to it cruelty to animals and two separate drink/driving issues and the perception is of a group with scantvregard for the law.
It's not all Tory wrong doing though. Labour have tended to stay on the right side of the law but they're just as guilty. Poole abusing the public at the Pleasurama meeting, Hart threatening the public at a council meeting.
And the justification for rejecting the report. You all work very hard. Well so did Goebbels.
Stop trying to justify poor behaviour; behaviour that you would not tolerate from your children. Grow up the lot of you.
I stopped commenting several months ago when I realised that you don't want to listen to things that you don't want to hear. Not just you, but the whole of this sorry collection of wannabee politicos that is the present council.