Breckland councillors abolish committee that investigated complaints against councillors

The standards committee that investigated complaints about district and parish councillors in the Breckland area was formally abolished last night.

The standards committee included independent members and representatives of parish councils in addition to Breckland councillors, but the government's Localism Bill removed the requirement that it exist.

Responsibility for investigating complaints about councillors will be transferred to Breckland Council's audit committee, whose members are all Breckland councillors. It will form a three-member hearing panel to hear cases referred to it by the council's monitoring officer.

Members of the standards committee had fiercely opposed the changes, but it was recommended by the cabinet on May 8 and rubber-stamped by the full council on Thursday May 24.

Two councillors abstained on the vote, with Shirley Matthews voicing concerns about the lack of an appeals panel.

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Councillors also appointed Fiona Anthony to the newly-created position of Independent Person, who must be consulted about any decisions about complaints against councillors.

She is a non-practising solicitor and is also an independent member of the Norfolk Police Authority.

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