Complaints against West Norfolk councillors deemed ‘malicious’

Exhibition of Marsh Lane housing plans in the Wembley Room, Lynnsport on Thursday. ANL-150406-115227009

Exhibition of Marsh Lane housing plans in the Wembley Room, Lynnsport on Thursday. ANL-150406-115227009

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Allegations made against a West Norfolk councillor in a row over a major housing scheme for Lynn have been dismissed as “malicious” and “politically motivated”.

Last week, complaints were lodged against the borough council’s deputy leader, Alistair Beales, and Conservative backbencher Patrick Rochford.

The complaints, which were made by Lynnsport Area Residents’ Association (LARA) secretary Sue Bruce, claimed that both men had broken the authority’s code of conduct in relation to their handling of the Lynnsport and Marsh Lane housing proposals, which campaigners oppose.

But the authority’s monitoring officer, Emma Duncan, has ruled the allegations against Mr Rochford do not constitute a breach of the code.

She said she regarded the complaint as politically motivated because its details had been disclosed to the Lynn News before it had been investigated.

She added: “By making the complaint public immediately the complainant has sought to embarrass the members concerned rather than going through the appropriate process.

“On this basis I consider the complaint to be malicious.”

It is understood that the same conclusions have been reached in relation to the complaints against Mr Beales.

But Mrs Bruce said she would be taking the matter further, as she maintains that the councillors are not fulfilling their roles properly in relation to the housing scheme, which LARA opposes.

She said: “They’re supposed to represent constituents’ views even if they’re not their own and they’re clearly not.”

But the assessment said councillors were entitled to hold and express their own opinions on issues.

It went on: “On some occasions some of the electorate will agree with his viewpoint and others will not. That is the nature of democratic representation.

“Holding a view which is different to that of LARA is not a breach of the Code of Conduct.”

Mr Beales said today: “I hope we can move forward on a sensible basis.”