Councillor suspended in standards row

Local and European Election count at Chorley Town Council.'By election Wheelton and Withnall'Christopher France a
Local and European Election count at Chorley Town Council.'By election Wheelton and Withnall'Christopher France a

A CHORLEY councillor has been suspended for a month for bringing the Market Street authority into disrepute.

Labour councillor, Coun Christopher France, who represents the Wheelton and Withnell ward, appeared before the council’s standards committee a fortnight ago.

It was about a campaign by Coun France against ‘proposed’ housing developments on three sites in Brinscall.

He claimed that the council had voted through housing plans on the land.

It was argued that Coun France had also breached the code of conduct by disclosing confidential documents to a member of the public.

The complaints centred around the consultations for the Local Development Framework plans last year.

Coun France appealed a decision to suspend him for three months last Friday and it was reduced to a month.

Chorley Council’s Chief Executive Gary Hall said: “As with any complaint we receive about a councillor it is fully investigated and in this case it was put before a standards sub-committee.

“The sub-committee, a panel of three and chaired by an independent person, found Councillor France to be in breach of the code of conduct, by disclosing confidential information and bringing the authority into disrepute.

“As a result, Councillor France has been suspended from his duties for one month and will undergo training on the issue of confidentiality.”

Coun Chris France said: “I am extremely disappointed by the decision.

“I acted in the very best interests of the people I represent on what I though was a proposal for land.

“When I reviewed the decision and apologised for the error I don’t believe the punishment was warranted as I made mistake.”

Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of the labour group, said: “Chris made a simple error and we are concerned that it was given such a severe punishment considering more senior councillors got training.

“We are not happy with the process and are reviewing the situation.”