Council feud ends in official inquiry

WEEKS of feuding with other members has led to a parish councillor voting to report himself to a national watchdog.

WEEKS of feuding with other members has led to a parish councillor voting to report himself to a national watchdog.

Cllr Chris Byrne surprised everyone at a Compton Bishop Parish Council meeting when he voted 'yes' to being reported to the Standards Board for England, a body responsible for handling complaints against elected and co-opted members of local authorities and ensuring they maintain high ethical standards.

The vote was a unanimous decision by the council after Cllr Byrne asked for a vote of no confidence, which fell as there was no seconder.

Chairman Eddie Farley then said: "Despite efforts to resolve differences that have arisen between Cllr Byrne, the chairman and members of the council over the past month these have not been successful.

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"It is proposed that because of their vexatious nature and attitude the matter be reported to the Standards Board of England for consideration and adjudication."

The vote arose after Cllr Byrne made several complaints against the council, asking for minutes to be changed to include things that other council members could not remember being said.

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During a heated debate he also asked for several letters he had written to the clerk and chairman to be minuted but Cllr Farley explained that items cannot be added once the agenda had been sent out and the letters were only received a few days before the meeting.

Since the meeting on Wednesday night last week, which was attended by over 20 residents, Cllr Byrne sent a letter out to residents in Compton Bishop and Cross, Cllr Farley and the parish clerk, Paul Passey, with photocopies to the Somerset Mercury.

In the letter to Cllr Farley, Cllr Byrne said he wished to formally apologise for comments deemed 'offensive and unacceptable'.

He also wrote to residents in Compton Bishop and Cross saying: "I am writing this letter as a result of numerous sleepless nights and general ill effect on my health and wellbeing, culminating in last night's council meeting."

The letter says he wished to apologise to anyone who may have been offended.

Cllr Farley added: "I am in the process of putting the complaint together and will soon be sending a letter off to the Standards Board for England.

"The whole matter is a distraction from the job of a parish council but unfortunately something that needs to be done.

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