‘I’m not guilty, I have done nothing wrong’ parish council chairman tells councillor who wanted him to quit after conduct hearing

00:31 15 April 2014

Cllr Ann Desborough (left) with Cllr Mark Archer at Manea parish council

Cllr Ann Desborough (left) with Cllr Mark Archer at Manea parish council

Archant

A parish council chairman found guilty of misconduct refused calls for his resignation claiming he was “not guilty of the facts spewed out” by fellow councillors who had complained.

Councillor Steve Emery, chairman of Manea Parish Council, brushed off criticism by two councillors who had brought the complaints which led to a conduct committee hearing by Fenland Council.

“I have done nothing wrong,” said Cllr Emery, who accused Cllr Mark Archer of launching a “personal vendetta” against him.

He said the conduct committee “can’t ask me to resign, I am an elected member. I am not resigning no way”.

The exchange came at the end of last night’s parish council meeting in the village hall which had been preceded by the annual parish assembly. Coincidentally it was at the same assembly last year that Councillor Alan Fielding was later to allege he had “lent on” by Cllr Emery and Councillor Pop Jolley not to mention an enforcement issue in the village.

Both councillors later denied they had done so but a conduct hearing narrowly voted in favour of bringing in one misconduct finding against Cllr Jolley and three against Cllr Emery.

Cllr Archer said the complaints against both Cllr Emery and Cllr Jolley had been properly investigated by a solicitor “and whether you agree or not both councillors were found guilty which was backed up by the committee.”

He said they had brought the council into disrepute “and seriously damaged this council’s reputation”.

Cllr Archer said the chairman should have stood aside temporarily while the complaints were investigated and “should have resigned immediately” once the verdicts were announced.

“I am disappointed to see him still occupy the chairmanship; it is shameful. His actions prove he is not fit to sit in this council let alone be our chairman. Both he and Cllr Jolley should resign.”

Councillor Ann Desborough, vice chairman, said four of the six conduct committee members thought both councillors had no case but to answer but it reduced to 2-2 since two members of the committee are not allowed to vote. The chairman used his casting vote to deliver the guilty verdicts.

“If you call that democracy, I don’t,” she said.

Cllr Desborough said the complaints were “borne out of animosity” and should never been heard.

She added: “Cllr Emery has done more for this village than anyone.”

Cllr Emery added: “I have not broken the rules- this conversation is finished.”

Cllr Archer left by stating loudly the outcome was “outrageous”.

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