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Standards Subcommittee Considers Monitoring Officer's Report

Published Tuesday 15 December, 2020
Last updated on Friday 12 March, 2021

Complaint No: SBC 014-20

On 26 November 2020, a standards hearing subcommittee of Swale Borough Council considered a report of the monitoring officer into the alleged conduct of Cllr Alan Horton, a member of Swale Borough Council.

Complaint summary

A total of 20 complainants alleged that Cllr Horton breached the members’ code of conduct by making unsubstantiated allegations of probable criminal misconduct against Swale cabinet members during a meeting of the full council on 17 June 2020.

Consultation with independent persons

The independent persons concluded that from the evidence presented the subject member had breached paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Code of Conduct.

Findings

The standards hearing subcommittee noted that Cllr Horton had not raised any points of difference with regard to the facts as stated in the monitoring officer’s report, and further that Cllr Horton had agreed with the monitoring officer’s preliminary finding that the former’s conduct amounted to a breach of paragraphs 9 and 10 of the code of conduct.

After considering the content of the report and oral submissions by the investing officer and the subject member, as well as the views of the independent persons, the standards hearing subcommittee reached the following decision(s):

  1. That there had been a breach of paragraph 9 of the code of conduct, which refers to “Valuing my colleagues and staff and engaging with them in an appropriate manner and one that underpins the mutual respect between us that is essential to good local government”.
  2. That there had also been a breach of  Paragraph 10 of the code of conduct, which refers to “Always treating people with respect, including the organisations and public I engage with and those I work alongside”.

Sanctions applied

The subcommittee solicited the opinions of the monitoring officer and the independent persons as to whether a sanction should be applied. The subcommittee also consulted Cllr Horton on this point, noting that he did not wish to make any comment regarding the existence or otherwise of mitigating circumstances.

The subcommittee determined that the appropriate sanction was for Cllr Horton to make a public apology. The subcommittee noted that a full public apology had in fact already been made at the full council meeting following that at which the breach of the code of conduct had occurred, and therefore considered that this obligation had been discharged.

The subcommittee determined that its finding and the sanction applied should be reported to a meeting of the full council.

Recommendations for promoting high standards of conduct

The standards hearing subcommittee recommended that the monitoring officer write to all Swale councillors to remind them of their obligations under the code of conduct.

Appeal

There is no right of appeal against the standards hearing subcommittee’s decision.

Notification of decision

This decision notice is sent to:

  • Cllr Alan Horton
  • Complainants
  • Monitoring Officer

Additional help

If you need additional support in relation to this decision notice or future contact with the Borough Council, please let us know as soon as possible. If you have difficulty reading this notice, we can make reasonable adjustments to assist you, in line with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010. We can also help if English is not your first language.

If you require additional assistance, in the first instance please contact the monitoring officer on 01795 417269.