Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cllr Ivan Bell falls foul of Standards Committee

News about Ivan Bell the Controversial Councillor for Old Glossop

Ivan Bell, Councillor for Old Glossop is not everyone's cup of tea, though he has been elected successfully as Councillor for Old Glossop on two occasions, which is more than can be said about a lot of Labour councillors in their respective wards.

He does however walk a political tightrope that carries the threat of alienating both the mainstream and those dissenting voices that are traditionally aligned with the left and green issues. Speaking as a "man of the people" has not entirely endeared him to some of us at this particular hotspot of local political comment, as previous articles reveal, whilst now he has seriously fallen foul of the Council's Standards Officer and is apparently subject to some kind of "impeachment" process if that is the right word.

I would have been less than surprised if this "impeachment" had derived from Mr Bell's failure to wear the "bureau" suit look , without tie, as modelled by former Council Head Cllr Lomax in High Peak Connect. However it appears that Cllr Bell has not fallen foul of the authorities for such sartorial crimes, that might make him stand out from the council's uniform. We stress that wearing a somewhat battered cloth cap does not of itself incur any kind of penalty that is known of.

Nor apparently is Cllr Bell's offence related to the fact that he wished Councillors and Officers of the Council to sign up in its Code of Conduct to an enshrined commitment to "tell the truth to the public" in a new media section. The said Councillors and Officers apparently felt that a "tell the truth to the public" clause was not relevant to its code of conduct, though some might argue differently, and it was voted down.

Nor is there any overt indication that he has been "arraigned" for thinking or speaking for himself, and not being accountable to any particular party whip that might rein in his overactive tongue and man of the people stance. There is no overt indication that this is a crime in the UK today, obviously if that were the case serious questions might be asked about whether we truly live in a climate of free speech and democracy.

No apparently Mr Bell's alleged misdeamenour is of a more familiar type. We believe another Local Cllr, Les Wilcox - not to be confused with County Cllr David Wilcox OBE who has never been involved in similar controversy - a few years back, fell foul of similar allegations although that was before the Standards Committee existed, at least as I understand it.

On that occasion the perception of bullying and harassment (as I recall) raised so much concern that local MP Tom Levitt felt justified in using valuable parliamentary time to raise the matter in our national forum at Westminster, as being presumably of national concern. Judging from the newspaper reports a lot of political people were unhappy with Mr L Wilcox, who was coincidentally another Independent Councillor, unaccountable to a Party Whip. I believe Mr L Wilcox was removed from office.

On this occasion a Standards Committe is in place. The alleged misdemeanours are those of alleged "bullying and treating a female officer with disrespect". I should stress that this clearly very serious allegation was referred to an external Standards Board by the High Peak Standards Officer and it was re-referred for hearing, as it was felt externally that there was a case to answer. The Hearing is at this stage at the usual somewhat inaccessible central High Peak location of Chinley Offices, 10am Friday 6th June, though Cllr Ivan Bell wishes if possible to move the venue to Glossop so that his constituents can attend. We are not quite sure why this but could it be that Cllr Bell feels he wishes his defence to be heard by those he has striven to represent? We will see.

It does seem to us that it is reasonable to conclude that High Peak Borough Council's mainstream councillors and council struggle to work with unaffiliated politicians. Perhaps the other Independent Chris Webster might feel a little concerned, as potentially being in a somewhat isolated position.

In the meantime watch this space.

1 comment:

Cllr. Ivan said...

Thank you for the unbiased and kind report.
Cllr Ivan