Published: 12:00, 04 August 2017
Swale council’s Ukip leader has been banned from taking part in any more scrutiny committee meetings for three months after refusing to hand back confidential “blue” papers.
Cllr Mike Baldock, who represents Borden and Grove Park, was quizzed by the council’s former legal adviser Duncan Milne as part of a standards hearing.
Despite impassioned pleas from opposition councillors, including Labour’s Ghlin Whelan (Chalkwell), who admitted Cllr Baldock could be a “real pain at times”, the full council voted to accept the hearing’s recommendations and bar him.
Cllr Angela Harris (Lab, Sheerness) said it was “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and added: “Mike can be stroppy but this is pretty squalid. It has been blown out of all proportion. But to be honest, I wouldn’t say taking him off scrutiny for three months was actually a punishment.”
Labour leader Cllr Roger Truelove (Homewood) said: “Cllr Baldock was born stroppy but these proceedings have been totally disproportionate.”
Afterwards, a defiant Cllr Baldock insisted he “didn’t give a monkeys” about the views of the standards committee.
He said: “I am appalled. I see it as blatant and vindictive bullying by the Tories. The vote to bar me was 100% from the Conservative Group, except for two abstentions, with not a single opposition member from any group supporting it.
"I never denied taking the papers. I was objecting to being dictated to by a council officer. I am disappointed that point has still not been addressed.”
But during the often stormy debate in the council chamber Cllr Andy Booth (Con, Minster Cliffs), who chairs the scrutiny committee, stood up and announced it was he who told Cllr Baldock to return the papers.
He added: “If I had my way I would suggest even stronger sanctions. As chairman I am extremely reluctant to ever allow him back in.”
Cllr Baldock said afterwards: “It’s my job as opposition to be a thorn in the side of the Tories. The day Tory leader Andrew Bowles tells me I’ve been a good boy is the day I will know it’s time to quit.
"The problem is the scrutiny committee is now a toothless wonder led by a member of the ruling party too eager to please.”
Ironically, Cllr Baldock is not even on the scrutiny committee anyway.
He quit in April and handed over his place to Ukip colleague June Garrad (Sheppey Central).
A Freedom of Information request has discovered that the hearing, including money paid to Mr Milne, has cost the taxpayer £5,700.
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