Row erupts over conduct at town council meeting

Councillor Julie Reed
Councillor Julie Reed

Accusations were flying as a row over councillor conduct almost erupted in to a slanging match at a recent town council meeting.

Retiring mayor of Crowle Town Council Paul McCartan raised concerns about an agenda item relating to web and newsletter releases that are read by townspeople and are, he claimed, misleading.

Town councillors should not be quoted as such ‘when wearing another hat’, or not speaking as a representative of the town council, he complained, and referred to articles in which Coun Julie Reed is named as a town councillor when undertaking work with the local MP’s office.

“Information goes out linking the town council in, yet involving items the town council knows nothing about,” he said. “This results in mixed messages. If the town council’s name is put to something we know nothing of then it places us in a difficult position.”

Coun Julie Reed retorted by accusing Coun McCartan of “making hay on Facebook” and “reporting confidential matters” over his year of office. She said: “I do lots of different things and people know me as a town councillor. It’s not incorrect to say I am one, although I might not be speaking as a town councillor.”

New mayor Coun Ron Stewart said the debate should not be part of the forum. He said: “We all have other activities. But there is a difference between something being attributed to Crowle Town Council and an individual being identified as a Crowle town councillor.

“We cannot stop what is reported outside if an individual has more than one hat.”

Coun Trevor Barker added: “No-one should credit anything said to Crowle Town Council unless that is agreed beforehand, as in the code of conduct. It is up to us to make it clear we are not speaking on behalf of the town council. I will specify I am speaking as a North Lincolnshire Axholme North councillor if that is the case.”

Coun Reed continued: “I uphold the code of conduct and have great respect for the town council. I take on board these comments but ask that it be extended to every councillor at the table.”

Every town councillor should re-read the code of conduct that they signed up for, said Chair Coun Stewart, who added: “There should be no need for a debate like this in a meeting.” Coun Barker said: “You are the boss. It is up to you to tell people what they can and can’t do.”