Council complaints prompts Watchdog to rewrite code of conduct

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 03:30 PM

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The code which regulates councillors' conduct is to be overhauled following a flood of complaints to the local government standards watchdog.

Shepway District Council came out badly in a highly critical 55-page report by The University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government Studies in October 2003, citing the excessive numbers of complaints reported by the council.

The body responsible for investigating council members' conduct is sketching out proposals to revise the code of conduct for councillors, less than three years after it was first introduced under the Local Government Act 2000.

The Standards Board for England was set up in April 2001 to enforce the new code, and received the green light from the local government minister, Nick Raynsford, to recommend revisions to the code when it saw fit.

Its decision to explore changes to the original code over the coming months follows concern over the deluge of trivial complaints reported against councillors, and the length of time it takes to process them.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, the watchdog has received 5,188 complaints concerning councillors, almost two-thirds (62%) of which were thrown out before reaching the investigation stage.

The remaining 1,971 were all investigated, at an estimated cost of between £2,500 and £3,000 per case, and resulted in 84 councillors being disqualified and a further 19 suspended.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is now working on legislation to authorise councils to carry out their investigations into complaints, in a bid to help relieve "the logjam" of complaints reaching the Standards Board.

The ODPM also confirmed it is drafting a code of conduct for council staff, which will also be overseen by the Standards Board.

Former District Councillor Colin Tearle said: "The reason for this revision, which is not before time, has been the way in which council officers and members of the public, have attempted to settle scores through the Standards Board of England.

"I also welcome the news of the introduction of a code to cover local council staff" said Mr Tearle.

Shepway sees bright future for prefab housing

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 12:51 PM

Fifteen councillors from Gravesham Borough Council visited Kettle Drive at Hawkinge on Wednesday (14 January) to look at specially-built prefabricated homes before deciding whether or not to introduce them in the borough.

Another body found below cliffs

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 12:42 PM

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The body of a woman has been discovered at the bottom of cliffs at Fan Bay near Dover.

Dover Coastguard were called to help recover the body 8.30 on Monday morning.

The woman, who has not yet been identified, is believed to have been in her late 30s or early 40s.

Port of Dover Police said they were still investigating but were not treating the incident as suspicious.

Found anything unusual recently?

Contributed by editor on Jan 19, 2004 - 12:35 PM

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For people who have found something unusual in their garden or attic, or while beachcombing or metal detecting, an event coming up at the Museum of Canterbury on Saturday 24 January will be right up their street.

Experts will be at the museum between 11am and 2.30pm for another free finds identification session. Whatever it is, however old it is, they will be on hand to identify it free of charge.

The event is part of the special Treasure exhibition, which puts on show a fascinating range of items found by the public and acquired for the museum. Already lined up for this weekend is a collection of Victorian tin soldiers found by a detectorist near Herne Bay, and a gold mourning ring.

Visitors will also be offered help with caring for their finds, and can hear how the recent Treasure Act works and how finders can benefit from its reward system.

Leading the experts will be Dr Andrew Richardson, who will have help from specialists in the local detectorist societies. Only identification is offered, not valuations. A range of popular books that help identify finds will also be on sale.

The free finds identification session is at the Museum of Canterbury in Stour Street and takes place this Saturday (24 January) from 11am to 2.30pm. Two further sessions are planned for February 28 and March 20.

Slashed throat passenger - "not suspicious".

Contributed by editor on Jan 18, 2004 - 02:16 PM

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Police are no longer treating the case of a man found with a slashed throat on a ferry as suspicious.

The man is in a stable condition in hospital on Saturday (17 January).

He was discovered by a passenger on the deck of a P&O ferry heading to Dover on Thursday evening.

The man had taken a return trip from Dover to Calais.

Body washed ashore

Contributed by editor on Jan 18, 2004 - 05:21 AM

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The body of a man washed ashore at St Margaret's Bay near Dover is not being treated as suspicious

Police were called just after 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon (17 January) when a member of the public reported discovering the body.

A police spokesman said the identity of the man could not yet be confirmed.

East Kent villagers armed with speed gun

Contributed by editor on Jan 17, 2004 - 09:30 AM

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Residents of a village in Kent have become crimefighters by learning how to use a speed gun, police have said.

Five locals in Wingham can use the mini GATSO radar which not only monitors the speed of traffic, but also its volume.

When a vehicle exceeds the speed limit as it passes the radar, a light flashes and an alarm sounds, alerting the volunteers who take down details.

Re: Lib dems bouncing like Tigger

Contributed by editor on Jan 16, 2004 - 04:04 PM

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Jean James !
What a joyous wonderous picture you have painted with your words!

Any mention of the £millions awarded to Hawkinge?

finkle I'll drink a toast to your reporting & await more of the same......thanks again


Man found with throat slashed

Contributed by editor on Jan 16, 2004 - 01:47 PM

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A man has been found on the deck of a Dover-bound ferry with his throat slashed, police have revealed.

Detectives have now launched an inquiry after the man in his 50s was discovered by passengers and staff on an outside deck of the P&O ferry yesterday evening. (15 January)

A police spokeswoman said the man, whose identity is a mystery, is in a critical but stable condition.

Missiles thrown at moving lorry

Contributed by webmaster on Jan 15, 2004 - 04:04 PM

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A group of children threw stones at a lorry while it was driving along a main road and smashed its passenger window, police have said.

The HGV was travelling along the A28 towards Canterbury when the missile shattered the window.

The driver told police he saw a group of three to four children run from the scene into a nearby housing estate.

Any motorists who saw this incident at about 1600 GMT on Monday should contact police.