Annual summary of East Riding councillor complaints revealed in new report

The vast majority of complaints lodged over East Riding councillors’ conduct were against one who tweeted a photoshopped picture of Jeremy Corbyn at the Liverpool terror attack, a report shows.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council report showed the standards monitoring officer investigated eight complaints alleging councillors broke the authority’s Code of Conduct.
The East Riding of Yorkshire Council report showed the standards monitoring officer investigated eight complaints alleging councillors broke the authority’s Code of Conduct.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s yearly summary of complaints made against members showed 520 of the 562 complaints were over the tweet, sent by Cllr Paul Nickerson in November.

Other complaints included a Molescroft parish councillor alleged to have attempted trespassing, one from Cottingham who allegedly sent disrespectful emails and another from Bishop Wilton accused of bullying.

The council report showed the standards monitoring officer investigated eight complaints alleging councillors broke the authority’s Code of Conduct, including Cllr Nickerson.

The Standards Committee heard five complaints after they were invested by standards officers between May 2021 and last April.

The only councillor the committee censured was Cllr David Rudd.

The Conservative Wolds Weighton councillor was also ordered to publicly apologise to Market Weighton’s Mayor Peter Hemmerman after emailing asking if his ancestors were Nazis.

Cllr Rudd told his standards hearing the email was sent after a few glasses of wine and the committee heard there had been a long-running feud between the two.

The committee ruled Cllr Rudd had breached the Code of Conduct by failing to treat others with respect but he was not found to have brought the council into disrepute.

The East Riding’s Assessment Sub-Committee, which examines complaints and decides how to proceed, took up 34 of the 42 other complaints from the 562 total.

The Assessment Sub-Committee referred seven to the monitoring officer for other action, three in full and four in part.

Other action includes standards officers speaking with or writing to councillors to remind them of their responsibilities under the Code of Conduct.

Minster and Woodmansey’s Cllr Nickerson resigned from the ruling Conservative group after admitting to sending his tweet which previously claimed was posted by friends in a prank gone wrong.

He later paid damages and was referred for a council investigation for the tweet showing Mr Corbyn holding a wreath next to the taxi blown up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

Parish Cllr Mike Hildyard, the Molescroft member alleged to have leaned over a fence and taken pictures of private land being developed, was referred to the Standards Committee in April.

The committee ruled the parish councillor had not breached the Code of Conduct, in part because dealing with trespassing was not in its remit.

Complaints alleging Spaldington parish Cllr Ross Ashton failed to declare an interest in a planning application involving his family’s business and over emails sent to local clerks were also heard.

The committee ruled Cllr Ashton had not breached the Code of Conduct.

Standards Committee members threw out a complaint accusing Conservative Goole North Cllr Nick Coultish of making Nazi hand gestures and racist comments at a 2019 general election count.

The committee ruled there was not enough evidence to rule on the accusations and that Cllr Coultish was acting in a personal capacity, meaning the Code did not apply.

Other complaints lodged included one against Neil Black, of Hedon Town Council, over comments he made in November 2020.

The complaint referred to the town councillor’s berating of a fellow member for floating the idea of painting a boat mural on the village’s former HSBC bank building.

The monitoring officer spoke to the town councillor reminding him of provisions of the Code.

A complaint made against a councillor at an unnamed authority alleged to have to said he would slap a staff member if they did not help them remains under consideration.

The monitoring officer also spoke with the Cottingham parish councillor accused of sending unprofessional and disrespectful emails.

They also spoke to the Bishop Wilton parish councillor who received complaints over language used in a letter to another and alleged bullying.