Thanet councillors will vote on a formal reprimand against former Cabinet member Suzanne Brimm at a meeting this month.
The censure is in relation to publishing the home phone number of chief executive Madeline Homer on social media and telling people to “give her a call.”
Following the complaint an investigation, costing £3,314, was carried out.
The investigator found that:
- Councillor Brimm’s Facebook post was an attempt to intimidate an officer who was a complainant against her in relation to an earlier standards complaint.
- Councillor Brimm attempted to bully the officer
- Councillor Brimm disclosed information which was of a confidential nature.
- The conduct of Councillor Brimm brought her office into disrepute.
The complaint was considered by the Standards Hearing Sub-Committee.
The Sub-Committee found that Councillor Brimm had breached the Members Code of Conduct and made the recommendations to the Monitoring Officer including a ban from council offices other than for meetings and the removal of her access to a TDC email account.
The recommendations are:
- That Thanet District Council issues a formal censure by motion to Councillor Brimm
- That the council withdraws email access provided to Cllr Brimm through the council’s email system until the 2 January 2019,
- That the council excludes Cllr Brimm from the council’s offices and other premises with the exception of meeting rooms as necessary for the attendance at meetings until the 2 January 2019.
A report to councillors says: “Councillor Brimm did not cooperate with this investigation and did not attend the Standards Hearings Sub-Committee meeting.”
Cllr Brimm has branded the latest hearing as ‘vexatious’ and ‘undemocratic’ saying she has not been given the opportunity to speak to the investigator.
She also says her email access had already been removed in February and was not connected to her publication of the chief executive’s phone number. Cllr Brimm said it was in response to a round robin mail she sent to Thanet councillors outlining officer conduct and bullying concerns which had not been included in an investigation report against her.
In response to this Thanet council contacted Cllr Brimm and said the authority was removing her email as she had shared ‘confidential’ information and was deemed to be in breach of the code of conduct.
The censure is the latest in a string of incidents concerning Cllr Brimm.
Quitting the party
In August 2017 the Birchington mum-of-two quit the UKIP Party over a row about ousting her from Cabinet.
In February this year she joined with Thanet Independent Councillors group but was ejected in June following a row about a tweet that said she “can’t waite (sic)” for a council officer to “pass away.”
The post was in relation to officer Gavin Waite and posted on the day of the funeral of her colleague Cllr Alan Howes.
At the time she said: “If I am to be expelled for speaking my mind, so be it, I work best alone, it’s of no particular consequence to me.
“I firmly believe party politics and the whipping system have no place in local politics and local government is best served by truly independent councillors.
“The only thing I care about is representing my residents.”
In February the council agreed an official censure against her, although it was not a majority vote, in relation to her social media comment that a senior Thanet council officer “…needs to go!! Not fit for purpose!”
In April Cllr Brimm appeared at Canterbury Magistrates Court to face three charges related to Freedom of Information requests for details about last year’s dog dna scheme.
The charges, outlined in the summons by Aaminah Khan, prosecution lawyer to the Information Commissioner, accuse Cllr Brimm of blocking, concealing or destroying records held by Thanet council “with the intention of preventing the disclosure by TDC of information” in response to FOI requests between July 31, 2017, and September 2 and 5, 2017.
A further charge says that between May 7, 2015 -when Cllr Brimm was first elected – and February 9, 2018, Cllr Brimm “being a data controller, processed personal data without having entry in the register maintained by the Information Commissioner.”
Cllr Brimm, of Birchington, has pleaded not guilty to the accusations. She will go on trial at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on September 3.
The Birchington ward councillor, who was also responsible for the installation of a road crossing at King Ethelbert school and specialist play equipment at parks in Westgate and Birchington, has accused the authority of pursuing her for whistleblowing and is currently being assisted by Whistleblowers UK.
She has also lodged several complaints with Kent Police of harassment allegations against Thanet council.
Thanet council will discuss the latest censure at a meeting on July 12.