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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32086
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I was publically humiliated by my Town Council on a number

Customer Question

I was publically humiliated by my Town Council on a number of occasions along with another Councillor who is also a founder member of a Community Group I'm Chairman of as indeed so was the group.
The worst occasion was at a meeting of the General Purposes Committee ( this replaced the full Council meeting, as 14 members didn’t think the Mayor was a fit person to be Mayor) on 14th January 2014 I was on holiday for that meeting. I subsequently found out in June 2014 the Council was in breach of the Localism Act 2011. In September 2014 I put in a complaint to the Borough Council's Standards Committee, regarding the Localism Act and added that I believed the decision made also breached my rights in Common Law. The issue was dealt with by the Standards Committee on 3rd December 2014. The result was that the Borough Solicitor asked for a meeting of the Town Council and explained to the few Councillors who dared to turn up that the Council broken the Localism Act 2011 S28 (4), breached Common Law (Natural Justice - the right to a fair hearing) and Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, and put that in writing to all members of the Council a couple of days later. The Deputy Mayor asked if the Borough Council had any sanctions it could bring and was told no there weren’t. The other Councillors were visibly relieved and realised they could continue exactly as they had done before. There was a final statement by the Borough Solicitor date 27th April stating that although the Council had gone out of its way not to make any restitution, the matter was closed.
Do I have a case I could successfully pursue under the Human Rights Act or could I initiate a Judicial Review as I believe I am still within the six week period? If I can proceed how do I go about it?
All the evidence of the Council’s illegal actions is in the public minutes of various meetings and so is I believe beyond reproach.
Dave Fisher 8 Parkside, Belper Derbys.***@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help with your question today.
What order would you be seeking at Judicial Review if the matter has already been found in your favour?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear *****,

The Legal issue was found in my favour, but the Borough solicitor said that there was nothing the Standards Committee could do as it has no power to sanction Belper Town Council. The majority of Belper Town Council decided they had got of the hook and didn't need to do anything. Not even apologise instead the then Deputy Mayor decided to express his personal views of me which were not positive.

“The Good Councillors Guide” (which is a booklet all members of the Town Council are given on becoming a Councillor and updated when a new edition comes out) says that

“A council has to do what the Law requires it to do.

A council may do anything that the Law permits it to do.

A council may not do anything that is not in legislation.”

The Localism Act 2011 S 27 says that Amber Valley Borough Council has a “Duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct”

BTC agreed on the 14th April 2015 to sent a letter to Deborah Dimock, the Borough Solicitor which ends “Belper Town Council accepts that they did not have the authority to censure Cllr. D. Fisher at a Council meeting held on the 14th January 2014 and agree for the decision and sanctions imposed to be withdrawn.

So far BTC has gone out of its way not to do what it said it was going to not to “agree for the decision and sanctions imposed to be withdrawn”. The contrary action is clearly shown in the minutes of the 14th April 2015.

The Town Council has shown that the Borough Council is unable to comply with the Localism Act 2011 S27 as on the information I have, I can see no way it can maintain and promote high standards of conduct even when a Council has broken the Law as it says it has no sanctions it can impose, and the Standards Committee refused to acknowledge that BTC had not done what it said it was going to do in its letter to the Borough Solicitor.

So the Town Council can apparently break the law with impunity, which does not seem right to me.

Sorry for the delay in responding, the Bank Holiday got in the way.

Dave Fisher

Expert:  Alice H replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information.
I can understand your frustration here and can see exactly what's gone one; but as the Localism Act 2011 does not specify a sanction what order are you proposing to seek from the Administrative Court?