Rotherham councillor argues that standards and ethics committee is “unfair” and “biased”

An opposition councillor has accused RMBC’s standards and ethics board of being “unfair, biased and not transparent.”

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 4th March 2021, 2:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th March 2021, 2:34 pm

Councillor John Turner of the Rotherham Democratic Party, told yesterday’s (March 3) full council meeting that after he left the end of a hearing, “felt I was going to have a heart attack not through fear but through anger.

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Coun John Turner.

He was formally censured in 2019 after being found to have broken the code of conduct and brought the council into disrepute.

He was hauled before the standards and ethics committee after making “inappropriate comments” during a full council meeting in January 2019.

Councillor Turner asked why Christmas carols were no longer played in the town centre in the run up to Christmas, adding that he had spoken to a member of the public who had said that this “was because the Council did not want to offend our British Immigration Department”.

During yesterday’s meeting, Councillor Turner filed a motion “That the Standards and Ethics Committee is not serving the people of Rotherham as a forum for justice, is unfair, biased and not transparent.”

“I’m deeply disappointing with the perpetrators in this. You all know that people are saying they’re not going into town, they feel a stranger in the town. I am not a racist, I don’t know who the accuser was,” added Coun Turner.

“I’m deeply wounded by this and don’t think I deserve it.”

Group Leader Councillor Alan Cowles backed the motion, and called for hearings to be made public.

“Right from the start the process favours the process of prosecution, rather than the defendant, Coun Cowles told the meeting.

Councillor Rose McNeely, chair of the standards and ethics committee, told the meeting that the hearings are usually webcast, although some matters are exempt.

“As chair of the standards and ethics committee, I am confident that the committee operates in a fair and transparent way.

“I am aware that Councillor Turner was found to have breached the code of conduct some two years ago. And if he had wanted to, could have brought a legal challenge to that finding.”

The motion was thrown out after councillors voted against it.

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