Councillor remains defiant in face of formal reprimand over social media comments

Cllr Suzanne Brimm

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.

‘Criticism’

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.

Defiant

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.”

17 Comments

  1. I do not endorse FB as a platform where council business should be discussed, but I do believe that any commissioned report should be transparent and available.

    • Yes, very “up-them-selves” – Anyway how can 12 people simply say they are now independent when they where voted in under a party banner !! There SHOULD BE new elections !

  2. One might perhaps say that the UKIP group in control of the said council has brought said councillor’s office and the council into disrepute…nevertheless, passing “rules” banning public criticism of council officers is what authoritarian regimes do,and is a long stride on the road to disallowing ALL criticism of the given regime.

    • I agree, this all sounds very authoritarian and appears to suppress comment. These rules need to looked at again in light of the needs of freedom of expression. Perhaps the rules should now be judged in a court of law rather that the Court of TDC.

      • Cllr Suzanne Brimm seems to have been treated very shoddily by TDC and the officer referred to allegedly appears to have shown incompetence on several issues. Cllr Chris Wells and CEO Madeline Homer appear to be quick to severely reprimand a woman. It took a long time to take any action against the lying Walter Mitty Konnor Collins and partner, thus delaying democratic representation of a council ward.

  3. About time, I don’t know who this woman thinks she is. She has upset too many people over fb with in approprtiate comments, going out of her way to stir up unnessacary trouble. Another fine example of a self hungry individual desperate to get herself a bit of “fame”. We are suppose to have faith in councillors, she’s not for our people ,shes all for herself. I’m just surprised this hasn’t happened before.

    • Then stand for election in the ward she represents and see what the voters think – its called democracy.Why are you unhappy that an elected official criticizes other elected officials? We see/hear it all the time in Parliament.

    • Absolutely agree with you Claire she has no ‘ filter ‘ she is rude, and also a tad jealous if any other councillor does anything for the good of the town or village, you can be sure she will find a way to express her dislike for them, GET HER OUT !

  4. The rules seem reasonable in that no forum is excluded but the comments/criticism of the Council staff-member just need to be constructive and not abusive or of a personal nature. So we would need to assess what the Councillor said, and how she said it. In a way, we could all benefit from following similar approaches to anything we write. Many people might want to describe UKIP members in abusive ways, suggesting they lack charm and might best be hurled into the harbour etc etc. But that kind of comment doesn’t actually get us very far. We just need to examine their policies and political methods and then reach conclusions about how successful, or not, they have been. UKIP have made their biggest noise nationally about leaving the EU. Now that 37% of the adult UK population have supported Brexit, we all have the dubious luxury of sitting back and watching it all go down the pan. But we should not insult or abuse Brexists. We need to carefully examine how it went wrong and why.

  5. About time with this particular councillor. Sacked from the cabinet, disowned by UKIP, might aswell just remove her from the council. Quite obviously has some issues.

  6. She should of been sacked a long time ago. Attention seeking rude nasty lady that should be ashamed of herself with some of the trouble she stirs up over social media. She sticks her nose in just about everything and jumps straight into things being offensive judgemental and rude when there is no need to be . I have seen her rude and insensitive comments towards various things regarding various issues. She should be ashamed of herself. Not a very highly thought of individual, and that is due to her selfish rude mannerisms nothing to do with political parties . About time she grew up.

  7. OK so all the hard Corbynistas have had their say and agree that nobody should see any fault in the hard left of council employees.

    Strangely, I thought that elected Councillors had the authority to make decisions and officers were there to advise them. Shame that TDC seems to work the other way round.

    Let’s get TDC back on the right footing and reduce all services down to those legally required. This will mean reducing staff levels by at least a third.

    Take a look at American local authorities and you will see staff levels of 30% of UK councils.

    It would be interesting to know just how many of those who commented above either work for TDC or are Labour party supporters.

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