A Worthing borough councillor who took a stand against ‘unfair’ parking fines for disabled drivers has been disciplined by the council – but praised by the public.
Sean McDonald said he received hundreds of supportive messages after being raked over the coals at a council standards hearing on Tuesday, August 20, for passionate emails sent to the NHS.
They were in support of blue badge holders fined on Sunday, January 6, for parking in disabled spaces by Health Central Surgery in Stoke Abbott Road, Worthing. Click here for the full story.
Despite being censured, he said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked by the support I got. You don’t become a councillor for the money; you do it because you want to make a difference.
“I accept what they say, but who am I being judged by? The public.”
While the fines were correctly issued, Mr Mcdonald accused parking officers of deliberately targeting ‘the most vulnerable in our community’ and urged the NHS’ parking appeals team to reverse their policy, as the clinic was shut to the public on Sundays, the hearing heard.
The fines were overturned following a story in the Herald in which Mr McDonald said the parking company – an NHS contractor – ‘showed a distinct lack of humanity’ and ‘should be ashamed’.
But the NHS complained to the council that the Conservative politician had made unfounded allegations about its employees and sent emails that were ‘intimidating in nature’.
The Northbrook ward councillor walked out of his conduct hearing after failing to have it dismissed for breaching his human right to freedom of speech.
He described it as ‘Kafkaesque’, adding: “This is disgraceful. I can’t see the point of me staying, because my guilt has already been determined.”
In an earlier heated exchange, Kevin Boram, chairman of the cross-party panel of councillors, told him: “I have extremely strong views about lots of things too, which is why I have a malt whiskey later on in the evenings from time to time to calm down. But in public, I still have to follow the code of conduct.”
The panel found Mr McDonald had breached two parts of the members’ code of conduct and censured the Northbrook ward councillor, meaning a formal statement would be published on the council website, and ruled he had to write a formal apology, attend conduct training sessions and have mentoring.
He described the decision as a waste of time and money.
He said: “It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”