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Borough Green and Tonbridge and Malling Borough councillor Mike Taylor breached code of conduct

By Claire McWethy

An outspoken councillor has been reprimanded following a stand-off with a head teacher which led to the police being called.

After being hauled before a standards panel for the third time in his career, independent member for Borough Green parish council and Tonbridge and Malling Council, Mike Taylor, was told he had the most "unsatisfactory history" of any councillor in the borough's existence.

The investigation followed a complaint by the chairman of governors at Wrotham School, Sheila Smith, about his conduct, as well as that of Wrotham parish cllrs Robin Betts and Harry Rayner.

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor

It came after the councillors turned up at the Borough Green Road school on March 4 last year to ask for a meeting with head teacher Matthew Wright about an application of funds for the purchase of a boiler for the school changing rooms.

The three councillors all believed it was contrary to the terms of a Community Use Agreement for the 3G pitch there, to which the school, Wrotham Parish Council and Borough Green Parish Council were all parties.

The incident led to the police being called, after claims cllr Taylor had blocked Mr Wright's car in with his van, trying to stop him leaving the site.

At the standards hearing, held of behalf of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC), cllr Taylor said he believed the school was "covering up" financial irregularity.

"No other TMBC or parish councillor in the borough past or present has such an unsatisfactory history" - council report

But the panel found cllr Taylor had breached the Code of Conduct of Borough Green Parish Council. Cllrs Betts and Rayner were cleared of wrongdoing.

The panel did not uphold the allegation that the cllrs had acted in a disrespectful or bullying way towards school staff in the reception area, as there was no CCTV or live witness evidence to support it.

However, the complaint against Cllr Taylor going on to block in the head teacher with his van was upheld. 

It was also taken into account that Cllr Taylor had not apologised following the incident, and that he had twice been found to have breached the code before, most recently for bringing the authority into disrepute.

Borough Green Parish Council has now been invited to issue Cllr Taylor with a formal censure.

A strongly-worded letter was also sent to Cllr Taylor, accusing him of doing a disservice to his residents and advising him to moderate his behaviour.

It stated: "This is the third time you have appeared in front of a Standards Hearing Panel and the third time that you have been found to have breached a Councillors' Code of Conduct.

Mathew Wright, executive headteacher at Wrotham School

Mathew Wright, executive headteacher at Wrotham School

"No other TMBC or parish councillor in the borough past or present has such an unsatisfactory history.

"You would be a much more effective councillor handling situations with disputed facts if you were to follow the Codes of Conduct and not take a highly aggressive and adversarial approach to individuals you have a dispute with."

But cllr Taylor has hit back, telling the Kent Messenger: "If I had used the sort of language they used to me in that letter I would have been in front of the standards committee again.

"They decided I hadn't bullied or intimidated and I left the school at the same time as the other councillors. The only difference was my car was badly parked.

"I'm not denying I will robustly challenge anyone I perceive to be doing wrong.

"The people of Borough Green and Long Mill know exactly what I'm about and what I do and applaud me for putting my head about the parapet and taking the knocks."

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