Complaint Number: LA/R/1318
Date case started: 19 Dec 2012
Decision issued: 08 Feb 2013
Allegation against: Councillor William Mylet
Complaint Categories: 2.1, 3.2
Nature of allegation
Breach of the provisions in the Councillors’ Code of Conduct relating to Respect as set out in section 2 Key Principles and Conduct at Meetings in section 3 of the Code.
Decision by Commissioner
Decision that the matters raised against Councillor William Mylet could not amount to a contravention of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.
Complaint no. LA/R/1318 concerning an alleged contravention of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct by Councillor William Mylet of Renfrewshire Council
1. Complaint number LA/R/1318 alleged a contravention of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct (“the Code”) by Councillor William Mylet (“the respondent”).
2. It was alleged that the respondent had contravened the Code, in particular the provisions relating to the Key Principle of Respect in paragraph 2.1 of the Code and in paragraph 3.2 of section 3 relating to Conduct at Meetings.
3. The person complaining, Councillor Jim Sharkey of Renfrewshire Council, (“the complainant”) said that Councillor William Mylet attempted to force his way into a meeting that the complainant and Councillor Maureen Sharkey had arranged with officers of Environmental Services. He said Councillor Mylet refused to leave and his attitude indicated he was going to make it a party political matter. The complaint was that Councillor Mylet’s actions breached the Code of Conduct because he failed to show respect and leadership in his attitude towards Councillors Jim and Maureen Sharkey and Council officers.
4. The complainant said he had arranged to meet with officers in the car park at Barshaw Park to discuss various matters that constituents had raised and to get an on-site briefing of the plans for the park. Councillor Mylet was present and said he had been invited by the officers. The complainant felt it was inappropriate for Councillor Mylet to be there; however Councillor Mylet said it was a public park and he was staying and he also said "Labour does not want people finding out what's going on in the park". The complainant felt that Councillor Mylet's demeanour was confrontational and was intended to create a scene.
5. The Council has in place a multi-member ward protocol and an elected member protocol. These protocols were revised by the General Management & Finance Policy Board in January 2009 and were included in the Council’s handbook in 2010. The elected member protocol covers good practice guidelines and under the heading “Dealing with Ward Issues” there is a provision which states that where an officer is calling a meeting with ward councillors to discuss a ward issue which is of a non-personal nature, the officer will invite all ward members to allow them to be briefed.
6. The Director of Environmental Services considered that as the meeting was about a wider ward issue, other ward councillors should also be invited. The complainant and Councillor Maureen Sharkey were advised of this and the complainant indicated he was not happy about it. Councillor Mylet attended the meeting, however after some exchanges between them, the complainant and Mrs Sharkey left and the meeting did not proceed. One of the officers present at the meeting said that on arrival at the meeting Councillor Sharkey was unhappy and approached Councillor Mylet asking why he was present. Neither of the officers present (one of whom has left the Council) participated in the ensuing conversation. The remaining officer has said that, except for being aware of raised voices, he could not recollect or comment on statements alleged to have been made by any councillor.
7. Having reviewed the available information, I did not consider that the matters raised in the complaint amounted to a breach of the Code of Conduct. The Council has approved a protocol on the attendance of councillors at meetings relating to ward issues and that was put into practice here. Having been invited to attend, Councillor Mylet could not be said to have attempted to force his way into the meeting. I did not consider from the evidence or from the complainant’s own description of events that Councillor Mylet’s conduct during their exchanges at Barshaw Park were such as to amount to a breach of the Code.
8. Having considered the information, I concluded that, the matters raised against Councillor William Mylet did not amount to a contravention of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.
D Stuart Allan
Public Standards Commissioner for Scotland
39 Drumsheugh Gardens
8 February 2013