Complaints policy revamp axed after dramatic U-turn

Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ken Hind
Leader of Ribble Valley Borough Council, Ken Hind
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A contentious proposal to change the council’s complaints procedure has been ditched after opposition from councillors.

At last month’s Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Accounts and Audit Committee meeting, a motion proposing to change the process of how the council deals with complaints against members was approved - much to the dismay of opposition councillors, who “called-in” the decision.

The move follows a live complaint against the leader of the council, Ken Hind.

At Tuesday evening’s call-in meeting, the decision was reversed - almost unanimously - meaning all complaints against councillors will continue to be dealt with internally.

The news has delighted Whalley councillor Terry Hill, who is leader of the breakaway Democratic Conservative Party.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “The result was a great victory for common sense which goes some way to restoring the credibility of the council and its procedures.”

Coun. Hill went on to call on Coun. Hind to stand down as leader. He said: “The only honourable action would be for him now to resign.”

Also expressing his joy, leader of the borough’s Liberal Democratic Group, Coun. Allan Knox, speaking after the meeting, said: “Thankfully, the call-in has worked and the council will not be acting illegally.”

In a statement to the Clitheroe Advertiser, Coun. Hind said: “At the council meeting for the first time the Chief Executive produced legal advice suggesting the motion was illegal. I had been so concerned about this issue that I had obtained my own counsel’s advice, which I had supplied to the officers which differed on major issues from that provided to the officers. However, I was determined as leader that the council did not do anything, which was illegal and outside our powers.

“I indicated to my colleagues that in my opinion we should drop the motion if there was a possibility that it was illegal and proceed with the internal complaint procedure.

“We then all voted to accept the call in and continue the process on the current rules hopefully speedily so we can concentrate on what we are elected to do, which is to make the difference in the lives of the public.”