Council to debate new rules after Facebook racism resignation
PUBLISHED: 19:37 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:35 27 July 2020
Ipswich council could be set to ask the government for a change in the rules to allow local authorities to suspend councillors who break disciplinary codes in the wake of Robin Vickery’s resignation after he re-posted racist comments on Facebook.
Former mayor Glen Chisholm has tabled a motion for Wednesday’s meeting calling on Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to amend the 2011 Local Government Act to again allow councillors to be suspended for breaching rules of conduct.
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He said: “Mr Vickery has resigned from both the borough and the county council after leaving the Conservative Party and being suspended by his groups – but if he had chosen he could have just sat on until he was next due for re-election. I don’t think that’s right.
“Until 2011 action could be taken against councillors who broke codes of conduct (two councillors were suspended from sitting on Ipswich council in 2004) but now there is nothing that can be done. This motion urges the government to once again allow councils to take action against those who break the code.”
Mr Chisholm’s motion specifically mentions the row about Mr Vickery’s Facebook posts – and he said those posts had made it very difficult for people from a BAME background to approach Mr Vickery for help as a councillor.
The Conservative opposition group at the borough is set to oppose the motion because its members feel it is not right to suspend a councillor who has been democratically elected.
Group leader Ian Fisher said Mr Vickery had been suspended by both the borough and county Tories before he decided to resign and there was no support for his views – and he would have been frozen out of council business if he had tried to remain.
Mr Fisher said that if the motion said councillors could be forced to fight a by-election if they were in breach of the code, his group might well have agreed to that because that would have handed the ultimate decision to the voters – but it was not right for the council to suspend a democratically-elected member.
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