A THIRD meeting will be held on Friday (March 22) to decide whether one councillor’s use of the phrase ‘silly woman’ towards another councillor is in breach of the borough’s code of conduct.
Two meetings already held into the subject so far have cost taxpayers approximately £1,300, excluding the time of Milton Keynes Council lawyers and other officers.
Former Conservative, now Independent Cllr Andy Dransfield agrees that he used the phrase ‘Get a sense of humour’ ‘silly woman’ to Cllr Zoe Nolan at a meeting of Loughton and Great Holm Parish Council in November 2017.
At a first meeting on November 16, 2018, the Standards Sub-Committee told Cllr Dransfield to apologise after he told a female police officer at the same parish meeting that she “looked young enough to be at school” and asked her whether she should be at home doing her homework.
But the committee found that Cllr Dransfield had not breached the code in relation to calling Cllr Nolan, a member of Milton Keynes Council's ruling Labour cabinet, a ‘silly woman’.
Peter Todd, who chairs Loughton and Great Holm Parish Council, appealed against the decision on the grounds that the code calls for ‘respect’ not ‘seriously or substantially disrespectful’.
The second meeting of the sub-committee on February 12 decided to quash the original decision on the phrase ‘silly woman’ because there was a lack of information about why the second sub-committee came to the decision it did. One of the issues discussed whether councillors should expect to have different standards to members of the public.
This third meeting will be held to come to a conclusion on whether the phrase ‘silly woman’ should amount to a breach of the code. There will be completely new sub-committee that will hear the views of a different independent person and legal adviser.
A council spokesperson said that the flat cost to hold the two hearings so far was approximately £1,300, excluding officer time. He added: “Maintaining high standards of conduct is a statutory duty placed on every local authority and therefore we ensure that appropriate staffing is in place to be able to discharge this duty.”