No further action to be taken against parish council

No further action is to be taken against a parish council after it was reported to four different agencies.

At Rothbury’s monthly meeting last Wednesday, chairman Mark Gilson said that one member of the public had complained about the council to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Northumberland County Council, the Government-appointed external auditors and Northumbria Police.

The same member of the public was put under stage one of the council’s vexatious complaints policy in November 2013, because of continual complaints towards the council about its activities.

However, Coun Gilson told the meeting that the council had been unable to review the situation because of an ongoing investigation by the financial investigations branch of Northumbria Police.

But last week he said: “We now have assurances from all four agencies that no action will be taken against Rothbury Parish Council or individual councillors.”

A decision was taken at the meeting to enforce the next stage of a complaints policy against the member of the public who instigated the investigations.

However, after the meeting it was highlighted by this person that, as the discussion was held under urgent business on the parish council’s agenda, no decision could be taken.

Following the meeting, Coun Gilson said: “The member of the public is quite right and this renders our decision not legal.”

The parish council will instead raise the item, as part of the agenda, at the next parish council meeting.

The council was investigated by the four agencies with the county council finding no cause for concern. The ICO found the council had made a mistake, but had rectified it and Northumbria Police investigated three councillors who all made changes to their declarations of interest after realising errors had been made.

The external auditors asked the parish council to make some changes to its practices.