Macclesfield investigators probe standards complaint against ex-mayor

Bob Smytherman. Picture by Derek Martin
Bob Smytherman. Picture by Derek Martin

Private investigators from Macclesfield are examining whether a popular former mayor broke council conduct rules.

Worthing borough councillor Bob Smytherman has been accused of failing to register two interests – believed to be roles at a care home and as a school governor.

He is also understood to be under investigation for not declaring an interest at the council’s budget meeting in February.

Responding to the allegations, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Tarring said: “I can confirm I am currently the subject of an investigation by a firm of private investigators appointed by the council relating to a misunderstanding about my declarations of interest.

“Obviously I am unable to comment further while the investigation is ongoing, however I am hugely grateful for the support and advice received from the people of Worthing for my role as town crier on behalf of the Worthing Town Centre Initiative which I hope will not be affected following the conclusion of the investigation.”

Worthing Borough Council, which asked independent firm CH&i Associates to look into the complaint, was approached for comment today.

The Herald asked for the cost of hiring the Macclesfield investigators, details of any complainant, the full nature of the complaint and the next steps.

A council spokesman said: “There won’t be a comment on this while activities are ongoing.”

Mr Smytherman received several messages of support on social media as news of the investigation broke.

Tory county councillor Michael Cloake said: “Despite being on opposing sides Bob and I work closely on many issues at County Hall and he is a diligent and hard-working councillor.”

Mr Smytherman, in addition to his council duties, acts as Worthing town crier, a role revived by the Town Centre Initiative (TCI) business group.

He courted controversy at full council in April, when he challenged the Conservative administration on issues of tourism.

The meeting was unusually adjourned for ten minutes for legal advice, after Tory Kevin Jenkins argued Mr Smytherman’s link to the TCI should have prevented him asking tourism questions.

His questions were asked and answered by then cabinet member for regeneration Bryan Turner after the adjournment.

Mr Smytherman, also a West Sussex county councillor, was elected to the borough in 2002.

He was mayor between 2013 and 2014, at the time breaking the record for the highest number of engagements attended.