Mayor queries the validity of hearing
THE Mayor of Swindon, Nick Martin, has questioned whether the standards committee can provide a fair judgement into his conduct after he won a motion of no confidence last month.
Coun Martin (Con, Shaw) said he is determined it will now be business as usual, and added he will be liaising with his legal team to find out if the investigation has been compromised.
The motion of no confidence was put forward by Coun Jim Grant (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) following accusations the mayor had made derogatory remarks about people with learning difficulties last year.
He is alleged to have said: “They aren’t still letting those mongols have sex with each other are they?”
Coun Martin offered his resignation ahead of the historic vote on the condition that the two complaints against him were dropped, but Labour councillors rejected his offer, and the issue will now be determined by the standards committee this year.
But Coun Martin has now questioned whether the standards committee can provide a fair judgement in the wake of the vote.
“After having to go through all this I am intent on going full term,” he said. “I am now particularly concerned as to the fairness of the standards committee. I am going to have my legal advisors seriously question if it can even take place now.
“I have been judged in full council, and there are councillors in the standards committee who took part in that meeting. The vote may have taken place already, but in my opinion the resolution made to council was pre-emptive.”
Coun Martin said he wanted to get on with fulfilling his role, and hoped the issue would be resolved sooner rather than later.
“I just want to get on with doing the job of mayor,” he said. “I have always been very particular about being as supportive to people and organisations as I can be. It is a hard working position, but it is ceremonial. Considering how hard pushed we are financially, it is important to recognise success in events that are taking place.”
He added he felt vindicated by the result of the vote, which found 27-25 in favour of an amendment which stated that because there was a pending investigation it was not right to pre-judge the mayor.
“It is quite disappointing the whole thing has become political,” said Coun Martin, who said he felt bullied by the Labour group throughout. “When I attend events I am proud to do so on behalf of the people of Swindon.
“Standards may or may not occur in March, but I will question whether they have any judgement to make now, given what has preceded it.
“Having been contacted by a lot of people who have told me not to turn back, I feel remarkably well supported by a silent majority. We have to hope that full council meetings in the future are not as embarrassing as they have been. They are a public window to the council and it is astonishing what some councillors want people to see.”
Coun Grant, leader of the Labour group, said: “My understanding is that the standards investigation into the Mayor is only now in the process of starting, even though the original complaint was submitted as long ago as early October. As all of the people who attended the training session have confirmed he said the remark in question, I fully expect this investigation to conclude that the Mayor said the offending remark and that this investigation can be done in a timely manner. “We think it’s in the best interest of the council, the town as a whole and even the Mayor himself for him to stand down, and our position hasn’t changed.
“My worry has always been the longer this drags on the more reputational damage this saga will inflict on all involved.”
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