Member complaint judged ‘political’

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A COMPLAINT about a Morpeth council candidate will not be investigated after it was judged to be ‘politically motivated’.

Liberal Democrat Ken Brown, who was standing for election to Northumberland County Council and Morpeth Town Council, was reported to the county Standards Officer by rival Conservative candidate David Bawn.

The complaint centred on an email Coun Brown had sent to the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade about its election campaign for free parking, warning that the group could be seen as a front for the Conservative Party and that the town council would not fund the organisation if it was judged to be engaging in political activity.

Coun Bawn lodged a formal complaint with Northumberland’s Chief Election Officer and Standards Officer, saying he was concerned that Coun Brown’s email was a breach of standards expected of a councillor as his behaviour could be regarded as disrespectful or intimidatory and could bring the council into disrepute.

Now, however, the county’s Monitoring Officer has decided that no further action should be taken and the complaint should not be investigated as it was politically motivated.

Coun Brown said: “I think it is easy to interpret the rationale behind it all.”

Coun Bawn said he is happy that the complaint is on record.

“I am pleased that the council has looked into the disgraceful email sent by Coun Brown to the chamber of trade,” he said.

“It has decided to take no further action at the moment, which I feel is appropriate, however it is important that the complaint is on record.

“If Coun Brown or the new Liberal Democrat administration at the Town Hall act on Coun Brown’s threat and try to undermine the chamber or withdraw its funding, further action can be taken.”

Coun Brown was elected to the town council in the Morpeth Kirkhill ward.

Coun Bawn was elected to Northumberland County Council for the Morpeth North Division, with Coun Brown beaten into third place behind Green candidate Nic Best.

Coun Brown says he considers the matter over and will not be challenging the election result.