Councillor must apologise after standards hearing ruled she disrespected officers

A Wakefield councillor must apologise over her “disrespectful” conduct towards two local authority officers.

A standards committee said Nadiah Sharp brought her office into disrepute after she accepted two code of conduct of breaches.

Reports detail how a complaint was made against the Labour councillor after she “made a personal remark” about a senior officer’s “level of competence and salary”.

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The comments are said to have been made during a council scrutiny committee hearing in January.

Nadiah Sharp, councillor for Wrenthorpe and Outwood West.Nadiah Sharp, councillor for Wrenthorpe and Outwood West.
Nadiah Sharp, councillor for Wrenthorpe and Outwood West.

Following the complaint, a second allegation was made by another council officer.

Documents say the officer was left “feeling upset and undermined” after Coun Sharp sent an “unnecessary” e-mail and copied in the council’s chief executive, Andrew Balchin.

Both complaints were investigated and referred to a standards hearing after Coun Sharp’s conduct was judged to have “fallen below the standards required” under the code of conduct.

The meeting, on Friday, September 1, was held in private.

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An agreement was reached on a course of action prior to the hearing after discussions between parties involved.

The committee recorded that Coun Sharp twice breached the code of conduct by treating the officers with disrespect and bringing her office into disrepute.

Coun Sharp’s representative told the committee that she had not intended either breach and was a relatively new councillor at the time.

The committee ordered Coun Sharp to apologise in writing to both officers.

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She must also attend a one-to-one training session on the code of conduct and attend a meeting with the monitoring officer and chief executive.

Coun Sharp, who represents Wrenthorpe and Outwood West ward, was elected in May 2022.

Coun Isabel Owen, chair of Wakefield Council’s standards committee, said: “At a hearing held last week, the committee heard evidence relating to two complaints from council officers about Coun Sharp’s alleged behaviour.

“The standards committee found that there had been a failure to comply with the code of conduct and that sanctions should be imposed.”

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Wakefield Council’s chief legal officer, Gillian Marshall, said: “Wakefield Council expects all elected members to uphold high standards of conduct when carrying out their duties.

“If complaints are made, we have a clear process in place to deal with them.

“We do not condone any actions that breach the code of conduct.

“The council will ensure all the sanctions imposed by the standards committee are implemented.”

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A statement issued on behalf of Wakefield Council’s Labour group said: “Wakefield Labour group expects the highest standards of behaviour from its members and candidates and we are committed to maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment for all.

“All Labour members pledge to act within the spirit and rules of the Labour Party in conduct both on and offline with members of the party and non-members and in doing so stand against all forms of abuse.

“We have been made aware of the findings of a recent standards investigation but are unable to comment on individual cases until appropriate Labour Party procedures have been followed.”

In September last year, Coun Sharp was disciplined by her own party for publicly supporting taxi drivers during a protest over the local authority’s licensing policy.

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Labour councillors voted in favour of removing the whip from Coun Sharp for two months following a meeting.

A crowd of taxi drivers gathered outside Wakefield Town Hall in support of Coun Sharp as the disciplinary hearing took place.

Coun Sharp declined to comment when contacted.