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Home Sittingbourne News Article
An official complaint was lodged with Swale council by John Greenhill, who believed Sittingbourne’s Woodstock ward members Alan and Jean Willicombe had broken the council’s code of conduct.
The couple moved in October and have been replaced on some committees, but are still claiming allowances of more than £4,737 each.
At the time, former borough mayor Mr Willicombe said it was pointless to force Swale to pay for a by-election when their ward is set to disappear in 2015 boundary changes.
The couple also said they would be coming back to attend meetings.
However, they failed to attend a full meeting of the council in October and November.
On the forms submitted, Mr Greenhill stated the couple “are not acting solely in terms of public interest” and “they are no longer in a position to deal with matters that require immediate and personal attention”.
“I always knew we had not done anything wrong so I’m not surprised" - Alan Willicombe
A further 52 people wrote in backing his concerns.
As a result, the authority’s monitoring officer carried out an investigation, but it was revealed this week the complaint had not been upheld.
A posting on its website said: “Having considered all of the facts of the case it was decided that the actions of the subject members did not amount to a breach of the code of conduct.”
Mr Willicombe said: “I always knew we had not done anything wrong so I’m not surprised.
“I’m in touch with people by letter, email and phone calls and I’ve already resolved a few problems since.
“It’s not like the old days when people couldn’t get in touch. You can still do your job.
"Although we can’t do the face-to-face bit, I have Cllr Sylvia Bennett and Cllr Derek Conway covering for us so if we can’t deal with it they will tell us of any issues raised.
“The decision is still ours. They then take it forward on our behalf.”
The battle is not over yet for the Willicombes. A further two complaints have been lodged by Mr Greenhill.
One is to do with “honesty”, after the couple failed to answer a question he submitted to them by email asking if they were told by their party they were not allowed to resign.
The other is to do with them not attending meetings.
Mr Willicombe said: “They are still ongoing. I shall be very surprised if the outcome is not the same.”
Mr Greenhill, who lives in the ward, says he is disappointed by the outcome of the first investigation.
He said: “I don’t agree with most of it because lots of the issues I raised have not been addressed like the representation of the ward by two councillors who are not elected to it.
“In my view, if an individual asks the councillors to act for them they can but they have no rights or mandate to represent the whole ward. The matter is not over by a long chalk.
“I will wait for a response to my two other complaints and then I will contest several issues on fact and law.”
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