Parish council's top two reprimanded after complaints about behaviour

THE chairman and vice-chairman of a North Yorkshire parish council have been reprimanded for violating the councillor's code of conduct following a £12,400 inquiry funded by the taxpayer into a catalogue of complaints about their behaviour.

Councillors Geoffrey Berry and Neil Fraser, of Kirkby Malzeard, Laverton and Dallowgill Parish Council, near Ripon, were censured following a two-day hearing by the standards committee of Harrogate Council.

In a newly released notice, the committee found that Coun Berry – the current chairman of the council – sent emails to former parish councillor Alison Moss, and to third parties, which contained "unreasonable and excessive personal attacks" on Miss Moss.

The committee also found that he made inappropriate threats of litigation against Miss Moss and resident Mrs Elizabeth Connall at a parish council meeting because they had complained about him to the standards committee.

At the same meeting, Coun Fraser – the current vice-chairman – described the complaints made by Miss Moss and Mrs Connall as "moronic, crass, vile and vindictive".

The standards committee has ruled his comments to be "intemperate and disrespectful".

Coun Fraser was also found to have violated the councillors' code of conduct after he failed to declare a personal interest at a parish council meeting and spoke in favour of a planning application put forward by a close associate of his before voting on it.

In previous meetings he abstained from discussing the proposals.

Both men have been censured by the committee which took place in October last year. The full notice of decision has only been issued this month to wait if an appeal would be launched – none has been made.

Coun Fraser has also been ordered to attend a training session for parish councillors on the code of conduct.

The complaints took place between July 2009 and February 2010.