Councillor slams sanctions

Bob Brierley
Bob Brierley

A political dispute has erupted over the town hall’s decision to punish a Wigan councillor if he is re-elected for a new term in May.

Coun Bob Brierley was last week found to have breached the council’s code of conduct for using a swear word in a public meeting.

The controversial independent, who was not present at the hearing, has been ordered to apologise.

He has also been told his access to Brighter Borough funding and his e-mail contact with officers will be restricted beyond this year’s elections.

This has led Coun Brierley and several of his fellow opposition councillors to accuse the town hall of “electoral blackmail”.

But council bosses have maintained they are operating within local government regulations by imposing the sanctions.

Opposition members have referred the standards committee verdict to the electoral commission and the local government ombudsman.

In a statement responding to the Evening Post, the electoral commission said it would not be investigating.

A spokesman said: “The issue raised does not actually fall under the purview of the commission.

“We have advised the (complainant) that the best person to raise their complaint with is the Monitoring Officer at the local authority.”

Wigan Council’s monitoring officer, Linda Fisher, was the investigating officer for the complaint.

Coun Brierley, who denies using the offensive term, told the Evening Post: “By stopping my Brighter Borough money this council is trying to tell the people of Hindley Green who to vote for.

“It’s a disgrace and they’re telling lies about me. I think it’s discrimination.”

The council has said Coun Brierley used the swear word at a meeting in November 2014 in an exchange with Labour’s Coun Stephen Murphy.

Last week’s hearing was told the Hindley Green independent had not “engaged with the process” and has instead chosen to question the integrity of officers.