Friday, 4 April 2008

Standards Board Complaint

At last I have received a copy of the allegation against me made by an Abbeygate resident to The Standards Board. His letter first to the Chief Executive and then to the Board have now been sent to me, not because he had the courtesy to let me know, nor because the Board included it in their letter dismissing the allegation - but because I was forced to make a freedom of information request.

The Board have removed addresses under the Data Protection Act, so that if I wanted to respond directly to the complainant, I could not. However I presume there is nothing now preventing my publishing the two letters, which can be read if you double click on the images below.

See the details on 15th March post.

Was he justified in complaining? Vote in my poll on the right.

Update 9th April. In view of 21CM's comment I have decided to remove the letters. I would be interested to know what others think.

17 comments:

picklesmum said...

Does he have nothing better to do than write complaining letters ALL THE TIME?

Anonymous said...

Just a pointer, we can see the beginning of a letter P on your first crossing out after the word Councillor.

I think this letter is hilarious.

Paul F said...

as my damaged ribcage is making me virtually immobile forgive the lazy typing. the crossings out are not mine but the standards board because of date protection. however i am sure the cllr in question - and its not a P her/his first name begins with - would wear the accusation with pride - the same pride that prevents her/him commenting on my blog nowadays, except maybe anonymously?

obviously at least one person at the time of writing has voted for the complainant - i can think of a few possibilities, but surely not his partner who some months ago told me in person how much she enjoyed the banter of my blog...

whilst typing i apologise to my surgery visitors today for my absence - moving up from my chair is agony and the neighbours hearing my pathetic yelps - i was never much good with pain - probaby think mrs f is abusing me - the library is impossible without a stretcher. richard rout will ably attend to all and feed back any sebc or indeed bsetc matters.

Paul F said...

ps apologies for the fact that the 2nd letter may not enlarge. it is the formal request to the standards board which asks for their 'judgement'. had i been found guilty i could be banned from being a councillor - no don't start getting ideas...

picklesmum said...

I was in the library today and did look for you, but your chair was empty.

Paul F said...

PM - How I would have loved to meet you! I had a bad fall on Thursday and broke or at least bruised my ribs enough to make it almost impossible to get into a chair - which was why, exceptionally, it was empty. All was in the capable hands of my fellow councillor Richard Rout.

picklesmum said...

He lied. He weren't there!!

Bury Boy said...

I do hope you did not fall from your cycle while not wearing your cycle helmet.
No photographs this time please.

Bury Boy said...

There is a serious side to Mr Hardings ability to complain. That's a free and open society, this is not Zimbabwe.
What I personally find worrying is his belief that only " young persons" use and read your blog. I note the majority of commentators are over 40, the internet is the media of the time.
His belief that he feels he has the "right" to restrict your freedom of speech, or even ask others to "restrict" your views is at odds with our democracy, the fact he feels he can ask for a blog to be withdrawn is amusing.
It might help the average elector if more concillors contributed to blogs. RRR for one in my opinion.

I suppose as Mr Harding has never considered having his own blog, or been a regular blog commenter at least he would get some feed back, and save some space in the Bury Bummer. He could stand as an Independant candidate in a local ward?

I don't agree with some of your content, but the fact you are willing to post, publish ( albeit occasionally making late changes after posting),and state your views should be encouraged. At very least it creates a public record of your views, and opinions.

Local politics is not a matter of life or death, it's a pastime closer to a sport.

Paul F said...

pm - 10-12 is the surgery time - try 1st saturday of next month, on the grounds that you are attending on behalf of picklesgrandparents.

bb - no bike involved, and a helmet wouldn't have been any use, but i promise no pics this time. besides, given my skinny ribs there's no flesh to discolour. i dont want to ban complainers, but when they visit my surgery and act friendly, without having the courtesy to mention the 'problem', let alone let me know of their actions, its a bit much.

Anonymous said...

That ain't no P - it be a 'D'

21st Century Mummy said...

Hi Paul

I agree with a lot of what Bury Boy says and he's captured the situation extremely well, and yes I think that blogging your views offers a contribution to the political situation in Bury and even though I don't always agree with your comments, you should continue.

However, regardless of what has gone on between you and Mr Harding, as a blogger there is one particular issue that I have with this post and that is the publication of the letters.

As far as I can see, these are private letters which Mr Harding wrote to the council and indeed the Standards Board. Even though copies have been obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, I would question the fairness in their publication on your site.

If he'd written a letter to The Bury Free Press, that's a different ball-game. It would be fodder for all.

As a British Citizen, it makes me very uncomfortable with the fact that a private letter written to authorities can be published so easily in the public domain.

I am not writing in his defence, but I would have expected the author's name to also have been blackened out.

Bury Boy said...

Thats a good point 21stCM, the question is does Mr harding read this blog, and if so what options does he have, other than to repectfully request Paul removes the letters, which I assume are now in the public domain. I also assume Mr harding has not exercised this option. He of course could write another letter of complaint!

Anonymous said...

Paul,
I believe you had a right to publish as you say that under the freedom of information act they are easily available to anyone who wishes to view them. You have saved us all the trouble in having to put in a request for our own personal copies. Had Simon Harding wished to remain anonymous he could easily have sent out the letters unsigned, where if there had been any foundations to his complaints the case would still have had to have been investigated or he could have marked the letter “in confidence” . He had failed to do either and instead marked the letters cc: other interested parties, allowing anyone with an interest to view them. As taxpayers we are all now interested because this complaint was totally unjustified and was a total waste of taxpayers money, through Deborah Cadman’s valuable time and through the Standard Boards costs. It also shows what a sad, shallow man he really is, someone who continuously criticises others in numerous letters to the papers yet is unprepared to stand in any election to back up his own viewpoints. This case also highlights the most annoying part of any Standard Board investigation in the fact that you do not know you are being investigated until a letter arrives through the post stating that you have had no case to answer, surely you should have been notified out of common decency by Simon Harding that he was proceeding, yet clearly by his actions it shows he does not process any.

21st Century Mummy said...

Hi Paul - Just seen the update and I am definitely sitting more comfortably (no jokes about my previous position please). Well I was sitting comfortably, now I'm ROFL having ready Bury Boy's last comment. ;-D or is it ;-d

Paul F said...

Thanks BB, 21CM and Anon for your comments. It's a difficult one! I shall noww move on to safer ground...?

headless said...

Paul, having been at variance with you elsewhere and having only just re-visited this posting, I wanted to say that I agree with almost all of BB's comments in his second posting of 5th April, and those of Anonymous yesterday.

I understand why you have removed the letters (indeed, I would probably have done the same - just to be on the safe side), but have no problem with you having put them up in the first place. They are available as a matter of public record and you have simply saved us, and the relevant authority, the time & trouble of getting them ourselves.

I wonder though if a more comfortable position would have been to quote them verbatim?

However, the fact that their author was who it was, actually puts the complaint into some kind of context, knowing that they are a serial complainer!

Having said that, the letters were so ridiculous anyway, I don't think anyone reading them here could have taken them seriously...

Overall, I can't see that SBE does anything but encourage spurious complaints. Several of their Reports which I have seen seem to lose the wood for the trees. I have only seen one Report that has had an apparently sensible outcome - that for a Cllr somewhere around/in Haverhill. (Interestingly, some of that complaint was in connection with postings on a public internet forum!)

I am sure that dealing with an SBE investigation can be extremely time-consuming for a Cllr and also pretty soul destroying for those who, at the end of the day, choose to serve in this way.