Sunday, 15 January 2012

Breaking the waves

Photo taken at City Chambers, shortly after the Splashback deputation, 22 Dec 2011
 An official complaint (see below for full text) has been lodged with the City of Edinburgh Council, which refers to the Councillor's Code of Conduct 

15 January 2012

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing with a complaint about the behaviour of Councillors within the Full Council meeting, on 22 December, as both a member of, and on behalf of, the Splashback campaign, who made a deputation that day regarding the closure of Leith Waterworld.

I would like to raise several points, which I believe go against the recommendations of the Councillor's Code of Conduct, prepared and published by the Scottish Government in December 2010.

"The Scottish public has a high expectation of councillors and the way in which they should conduct themselves in undertaking their duties in the Council. You must meet those expectations by ensuring that your conduct is above reproach."

1.  We are very concerned that the formal decision on 1st February 2007 (on an all-Party basis) which stated that Leith Waterworld would remain open up until the new facilities at the refurbished Commonwealth Pool were open to the public was  not honoured and that an ‘Act of Council’ was not upheld. We believe that this sets a very dangerous precedent.

2.  We are very concerned that Edinburgh Leisure had not completed an EqIA regarding the closure of LWW, as per their funding agreement, prior to the decision being made in the Chamber on 22 Dec to close the pool on 8 January 2012.

3.  We wish to complain that Cllr Brock stated in the Chamber that a draft EqIA had been received, and indeed the amendment put forward by herself likewise states "that a draft EqIA has been submitted to CEC and is currently being accessed".  We have an email from EL on January 12 which states that "I can confirm that the Council have been finalising the EQIA over the last few days since we sent it to them last week." This would seem to contravene both the information provided by Cllr Brock in the Chamber, and indeed point 7 on the amendment.  We believe this contravenes the Code's advice on Honesty.

4.  We wish to complain that a decision was made in Chamber on 22 Dec to close the pool, without due regard to the Council's statutory obligations under the Equalities Act.

5.  During the course of the debate, Cllr Cardownie stated "If I had known that my words were going to be taken literally, I wouldn't of said them in the first instance". Cllr Cardownie was referring to his written amendment tabled in February 2007, and voted on by Full Council, which promised "That Leith Waterworld would remain open up until the new facilities at the refurbished Commonwealth Pool were open to the public."  We believes this comment directly contravenes the Code's advice on leadership: "You have a duty to promote and support these principles by leadership and example, and to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of the Council and its councillors in conducting public business."

6. We wish to complain that the amendment was put forward by Cllr Brock (Leith Walk ward and Vice-chair of EL) and seconded by Marjorie Thomas (Leith ward and Board member of EL). The Code of Conduct has the following advice on,

"Appointments to Partner Organisations

3.17     You may be appointed or nominated by the Council as a member of another body or organisation. If so, you will be bound by the rules of conduct of these organisations and your responsibility for any actions taken by you as a member of such an organisation will be to the organisation in question. You must also continue to observe the rules of this Code in carrying out the duties of that body.

3.18 If you become a director of a company as a nominee of the Council you will assume personal responsibilities under the Companies Acts. It is possible that a conflict of interest may arise for you between the company and the Council. In such cases it is your responsibility to take advice on your responsibilities to the Council and to the company. This will include questions of declarations of interest.

5.3 You may feel able to state truthfully that an interest would not influence your role as a councillor in discussion or decision-making. You must, however, always comply with the objective test (“the objective test”) which is whether a member of the public, with knowledge of the relevant facts, would reasonably regard the interest as so significant that it is likely to prejudice your discussion or decision making in your role as a councillor."

We believe that the tabling of this motion by Cllr Brock and Cllr Thomas contravenes the objective test.  We believe the Cllrs were acting in best interest of EL, rather than their constituents.

7. We wish to complain about the lack of respect shown to the Splashback campaigners whilst they delivered their deputation to full council - We have photographic proof of Councillors on their smartphones tweeting throughout our deputation.  We believe that a Councillors job is indeed to report to constituents on events in the Chamber, however if the Consituents are in the Chamber they need to listen and engage with the points raised.  We believe that this contravened the Code of Conduct's advice on Respect,

"You must respect all other councillors and all Council employees and the role they play, treating them with courtesy at all times. Similarly you must respect members of the public when performing duties as a Councillor."

8.  Finally we also note that the Code of Conduct states that "Political group meetings should not be used to decide how councillors should vote on such applications, or on individual staffing matters such as the appointment or discipline of employees. It is a breach of this Code to comply with political group decisions on such matters where these differ from your own views."

We are well aware and have been advised that some of the parties met to discuss and agree their voting intentions prior to the deputation.  Again we wish to complain.

I would like the City of Edinburgh Council to look into each one of my 8 points and reply to each in a written response, with the 10 working days, as set out in the section of "how we deal with your complaints."

Yours faithfully

No comments:

Post a Comment