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General Discussion

From the South Devon Alliance website

Written on the 15th February 2023 by Councillor Richard Daws, Leader of the SDA and the official Opposition in TDC since 2023.

Including an article from The Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs section.


Nothing has changed for the better since. The SDA continue to tackle these issues which Liberal Democrat Dawlish Cllr Wrigley fails to address as Leader of the District Council - (the crisis in local democrcay has in fact worsened) and he now wants to become our MP! Many people in the Dawlish area know nothing about the crisis in local government under the Lib Dems.


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Keeping an Eye


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On the 21st December 2022 the Local Government Ombudsman delivered a report to Teignbridge District Council that outlined in bringing forward a 'flawed' standards complaint in 2019 it had breached the law, its own rules and the Human Rights Act. The report, that TDC had fought against for two years, found seven serious faults and provided the council with recommendations it needed to implement. What happened in 2019 was that shortly after being elected, Newton Says No councillors were told by the solicitor at Teignbridge Council that there had been complaints about their behaviour. The councillors asked who had made the complaints and what was the exact wording. It is a requirement by law for a council to have a written complaint before it can initiate a standards procedure against a councillor. TDC failed to supply this detail, as it transpired, there were actually no complaints against either councillor. In the absence of any complaint, but with a seeming willingness to damage the reputations of the councillors, TDC initiated a costly investigation, paying an external consultant £10k to build a case to frame that the councillors had breached their code of conduct, to damage the councillors reputations. This scandalous kangaroo court and waste of public funds continued into the pandemic, and Cllrs Daws and Mullone were subject to unfair hearings in July 2020, which were streamed live on youtube. Council found that both councillors had breached code of conduct and issued reports constructed to exert maximum damage to the reputations of the councillors, with public statements that suggested that if the council could remove the councillors, it would. Both councillors attempted to appeal the decision to be told there was no right of appeal. Cllr Daws raised a complaint to the oversight body for councils, The Local Government Ombudsman. After a two year investigation, which TDC fought to defend its position, the LGO issued a stinging report that found SEVEN serious failings at TDC, including breaching the law, their own rules and the human rights act. They issued the report that had recommendations that TDC apologise for their failings and described the council as having 'systemic' failures.

The LGO's press release can be read here

And the full report here


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The finding were reported widely with including the BBC, where the council showed little regret for its actions saying it was 'disappointed' with the findings of the LGO. Yesterday Teignbridge District Council had a Full Council Meeting where it was supposed to apologise to me unreservedly for a three year smear campaign. Private Eye today sums up why this happened. That the council implemented 'dirty tricks' on Councillors who were attempting to call out wrongdoings on large scale planning decisions. The council meeting was a disgrace as the majority of Councillors failed to recognise that the injustices I had suffered had been mirrored in multiple ‘flawed’ standards cases. Brought forward by a Council determined to destroy the reputations of myself, Cllr Mullone, Cllr Patch and anyone who dare question the council. Elements of the council's actions sanctioned at the meeting were in line with the recommendations outlined by the Ombudsman, an apology was issued by the Leader of the Council and former Chair of Standards. MD Phil Shears wasn't present, apparently he is going to issue an apology too, but he was perhaps enjoying half term as we would liked to have been doing with our families. Tellingly the council announced they are referring their former Monitoring Officer Karen Trickey to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for overseeing the serious failings (only in my case I assume). However, the Council failed to refer the current Monitoring Officer, Paul Woodhead, to the same regulatory body. Mr Woodhead ignored solicitor and a barrister's opinions and spent two years telling the Ombudsman that TDC's actions had nothing to do with the LGO. The meeting also failed to acknowledge that the failings were 'systemic' and rejected my amendment that Cllr Mullone should also receive an apology, and that all code of conduct procedures in the last five years should be seen as unsafe. Cllr Patch, who the council has threatened to bankrupt, was silenced as he attempted to outlined how the Council Leader Alan Connett had lied at his standards hearing and the Council had lied to the High Court when he mounted a Judicial Review. The council still shows no self awareness. When Cllr Mullone became so frustrated he swore, two councillors attempted to flounce out of the chamber, feigning mortal offence, only to be told to return to their seats by the Chair. Perhaps noting that last week a High Court judge ruled that swearing no longer holds the offence it did in previous decades. It would have been helpful if our fellow councillors had shown such shock when in 2020 myself, Cllr Mullone and our families were subject to sustained criminal harassment by Cllr Bullivant's son, after we had raised his fathers non declared interest in relation to NA3.


The meeting ended abruptly, when I was refused the right of reply to a Councillor who attempted to close the meeting by undermining the apology offered, cynically and manipulatively misrepresenting the Ombudsman's findings.


So no closure yet, and it’s clear that some Councillors are still happy to defame us. You would be able to watch the meeting but a YouTube video of the meeting appears to have been taken down today.


If the council continues on its current path, eventually multiple cases of maladministration will translate into something more serious, such as Misconduct in Public Office. A criminal offence that carries a custodial sentence.


We can’t rely on TDC senior officers and councillors to do the right thing but at least you can rely on Private Eye to tell it how it is.

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