Worthing deputy mayor ordered to apologise for comments

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WORTHING Council’s deputy mayor has been ordered to apologise to a Northbrook ward councillor for breaching the council’s code of conduct.

The council’s standards board has decided that Charles James (Conservative) must write a letter of apology to Lib Dem member Diane Jones, and be required to undertake “appropriate training”.

The matter arose from a meeting of the Northbrook and Durrington Neighbourhood Panel on January 26 this year, which was chaired by Mr James.

Mrs Jones said in her submission to the standards board that she told the panel meeting she would have to leave early due to work commitments.

“Councillor James had responded by commenting in a sarcastic tone ‘well, it was nice to see you’,” she said. “It is my contention that by talking to me in the manner he did, and his efforts to bully me into submission, he failed to treat me with the respect that a fellow councillor deserves; likewise, his attitude in talking to the police sergeant and addressing the meeting brought the office of councillor into disrepute.”

Mrs Jones said: “The tone adopted by Councillor James was designed to make me feel humiliated and worthless as a councillor; indeed, I felt bullied.”

Mr James told the board: “My intonation was neutral within the flow of the debate. Her feelings are subjective to herself.”

He continued that he was not offended by PS Craig Burgess saying that residents should take charge of the joint panel meetings, not councillors, – it was not offence, but concern.

“I have chaired the joint panel meetings since May, 2010, and this was the first time that the police had commented on the governance,” he added.

“The rest of Councillor Jones’ letter of complaint is her opinion and contention, with which I thoroughly disagree. I will defend my reputation vigorously.”

Mrs Jones said: “I feel justified in making the complaint. It is not a political thing.”