Thanet councillors are to vote on issuing a formal reprimand to a former Cabinet member following a complaint about comments on facebook.
Cllr Suzanne Brimm, who held a Cabinet post as a UKIP member before quitting the group to become Independent last August following a row about a restructure, was subject to an investigation after posting comments that a senior Thanet council officer “…needs to go!! Not fit for purpose!”
Cllr Brimm was asked to remove the comments but refused to do so. Following the complaint an investigation, costing £3245, was carried out.
The independent investigator found that:
Councillor Brimm’s Facebook post compromised the integrity of an officer.
Councillor Brimm brought her office and the council into disrepute.
By criticising an officer personally in public, Councillor Brimm failed to comply with section 7.1.3 of the council’s Protocol on Member/Officer relations.
The Standards Hearings Sub Committee then recommended to the Monitoring Officer that the following sanctions be imposed:
That Thanet District Council issues a formal censure by motion to Councillor Brimm.
That the Monitoring Officer sends a letter to Cllr Brimm offering her training.
That the council send a press release to publicise the result of the hearing.
A report to councillors from Monitoring Officer Tim Howes says: “Members should be aware that officers are constrained in the response they may make to public comments from members.
“Members should be aware that officers are constrained in the response they may make to public comments from Members.
“Members should not criticise officers personally in public or through the press nor seek to undermine their position by abuse, rudeness or ridicule. This in no way reduces the right of members to criticise, in a constructive manner, the report or actions of a department or section of the Council where they believe such criticism is well-founded.”
At the next full council meeting on February 22 members will be asked to approve the ‘censure’ of Cllr Brimm.
But Cllr Brimm remains defiant, saying she stands by her comments which, she says, were made in relation to a review of the enforcement department that she had tasked as Cabinet Member for Operational Services.
Cllr Brimm claims a row has since taken place over the findings of the report and its publication.
The report, originally published last year, contains key recommendations from the review. The contents have been deemed confidential.
Cllr Brimm said: “I believe TDC is not operating in a way that supports an open, honest and transparent environment. I stand by what I said.”