Friday, December 21, 2007

Former Sutton Tory leader disqualified by The Standards Board

The former Tory leader of Sutton Tories(neighbouring borough to Merton), Eleanor Pinfold, was yesterday disqualified for a year by the Standards Board for breaching the code of conduct. Judging by the report of the case, it's quite clear that a very serious breach of the code of conduct had taken place. The result was not surprising given that she described the planning department as 'corrupt' and the police of 'political bias'. For a councillor to be disqualified is also extremely rare, indeed very few cases reported even reach a hearing. She does have the right to appeal against the decision, but the case against her does sound pretty overwhelming.

I enclose the Sutton Guardian article.

Cheam councillor sacked for brash emails
By Lisa Williams

Sacked: Miss Pinfold
A Cheam councillor has been disqualified for a year after being found guilty of breaching the councillors' code of conduct.

Eleanor Pinfold was stripped of her title today after a councillors' watchdog found she had used brash and offensive language when communicating with council officers and Sutton Police.

She was also found to have brought the council into disrepute by claiming its planning department was corrupt.

The panel ruled that these actions put her in breach of the code which she had agreed to abide with when she was elected councillor in 2002 and 2006.

Miss Pinfold, a practicing solicitor, did not turn up for the adjudication panel hearing at the Aerodrome Hotel in Croydon today but sent in written submissions in which she defended herself.

The panel heard how in November 2005 Miss Pinfold had upset Superintendent Warren Shadbolt by addressing him in an email as Shadbolt'.

Supt Shadbolt made a complaint about her after she had also accused him of being politically biased towards the Liberal Democrats and of skewing crime figures.

In an email to him she had written: "So far as I'm concerned you are a Lib Dem who does not really want to deal with the Conservative opposition but you go through the motions of being nice.'"

A catalogue of similar complaints was made about Miss Pinfold from 2004 to 2006 while she was leader of the Conservative party at the council.

They were investigated by the Standards Board and heard in front of a panel today.

Miss Pinfold pleaded justification for her actions but this was refused by the panel.

A by-election for her position as a councillor for Cheam ward is expected to be held in March next year.

5:45pm Thursday 20th December 2007


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd never heard of Eleanor Pinfold until today and as a Lib Dem I hold no brief for her, but I'm uncomfortable when an elected member gets disqualified for non-criminal acts, however out of order. Possibly though I'd think differently if I was one of the planning officers she'd called corrupt.

Nothing on the Standards Board website yet but Ms Pilfold clearly isn't challenging Miranda Grell for the Disrepute Shield.

1:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I have read, this is just a shocking abuse of power by the Standards Board. The public are crying out for straight talking politicians. Instead of focussing on real corruption (which they seemingly cannot find) they justify their existence by being politically correct thought police. All this brought in by this rotten Stalinist control freak Labour Government.

Publicly elected officials should be accountable to their electorate. Maybe there should be a recall procedure so that voters can remove their Councillor midway if they are that shockingly behaved. It is not for three people to decapitate one.

Increasingly the Standards Board 'tyranny' is being used by Council Officers as a vexatious threat to Councillors. This turns local democracy on it's head and in itself could be used by a corrupt officer to blackmail a Councillor who has maybe discovered malpractice.

Funny how there isn't a Standards Board for Council Officers and other bureacrats.....

12:24 pm  
Anonymous JamesatSutton said...

Typically many of the comments here show a complete lack of understanding about this case and I'm sure no-one bothered to attend the hearing (I did) and find out what this woman did/said, other than read the bland reports in the local press. I am a long standing Conservative voter in a neighbouring ward to hers, and also an officer at Sutton who knows many of the other Officers who made complaints. I can assure you that the comments and allegations made by Eleanor Pinfold were disgraceful and (as Simon mentioned) libellous. Senior managers at Sutton did their best to dissuade officers from filing complaints about this woman, frightened no doubt by the usual political pressure that councillors put on them. Thankfully, once it appeared that this was an ongoing systematic abuse against what are generally (in Sutton at least) hard working council employees, someone in the Chief Execs dept realized they could not just sit on the complaints any longer. Given that the Conservative party moved to distance themselves from her and her abusive allegations long before her hearing shows that they were only too aware that her comments would not be looked on favourably by anyone; standards board or not.

Pinfold did not bother to attend her hearing, or even send a legal representative. Far from abusing their powers, the standards board panel went out of their way to ensure she had a fair hearing - even to the extent of putting themselves forward as her 'representatives' against the allegations made against her.

No doubt, like any large organisation, there are bad council officers, some even who abuse their position. The majority are very hard working, completely honest, and are caught between a rock and a hard place. We have to follow the laws of the land, try to toe the council line (which changes constantly depending on the way the political will is blowing form one week to the next) and work under the stupid and thoughtless rules laid down by councillors who rarely take the trouble to find out how the departments they 'look after' work and who generally do not have a clue about exactly what happens ‘on the shop floor’. As an Officer who deals with abusive residents day in day out I (like my colleagues) have to put up with it; I do not expect to be further insulted and abused by those who are elected to help the residents of the borough. Pinfold did not help anyone. She merely obstructed legal processes and wasted Council Officer’s time and money through her continuing thoughtless self-promoting campaigns that did nothing to help those who have to live in her borough. Now she has gone I shall return to voting conservative. I look forward to the by election. I hope her convenient “ill health” dissuades her from standing again.

10:07 am  

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