Brent Council has refused to refer a complaint about a councillor's conduct made by well known Brent Twitter activist @PukkahPunjabi.
Pukkah Punjabi's sent the following email to Fiona Alderman, Brent Council Chief Legal officer on February 23rd 2016:
Fiona Alderman replied on March 10th 2016I would like to register a complaint at the conduct of Councillor James Allie during tonight's (22nd Feb) council meeting. During the entire budget debate, which given the current financial situation is of the utmost gravity to Brent residents, Cllr Allie was seen reading a magazine (the Catholic Herald) which bore no relevance to the proceedings. When I took the photos attached to this email he showed me what he was reading and was unapologetic about the fact that he had just spent the past hour paying no attention to proceedings.I wish to have this matter investigated by the Standards Committee as I believe Cllr Allie has shown a disregard for the residents of Alperton who elected him and complete contempt for all the residents of Brent who will soon be feeling the impact of the budget decisions taken tonight and which Cllr Allie regarded as undeserving of his time.I look forward to your response.
The last paragraph is of particular interest because it appears that Alderman is judging the legitimacy of a complaint based on the person making the complaint rather than the substance. The admonishment in the last sentence to someone who is a member of the public and not a councilllor or council employee is extremely high-handed - who is Fiona Alderman to instruct a member of the public in their conduct on social media?I write further to your complaint in relation to Councillor Allie’s conduct at the Full Council meeting on 22th February 2016.
I have considered the complaint under the Members’ Code of Conduct complaints procedure and have consulted the Independent Person, the Chief Whip and the Chief Executive. In all the circumstances, I have decided that on this occasion your complaint does not warrant any further action under the Code of Conduct. I have, however, reported your complaint to the Chief Whip for the Labour Group and written to Councillor Allie to advise him that the conduct you complained of must not be repeated.
In exercising my discretion, I took into account one of the comments you tweeted about Councillor Allie after the meeting on 22 February 2016, which he drew to my attention, which refers to Councillor Allie in insulting, derogatory and defamatory terms. Such comments are unacceptable and are unhelpful in holding Members to account.
Does this mean that if another member of the public had complained that the complaint would have been referred to the Standards Committee?
If anyone is interested in the 'insulting, deregatory and defamatory' tweet, just use your imagination and knowledge of @PukkahPunjabi's tweeting style and the interests of practising merchant bankers.