It was always going to happen. The Tories that dominate Shropshire Council can’t take a word of criticism. Now, Councillors Steven Charmley, Peter Nutting and Lezley Picton have lodged a formal complaint against me for having “published information which had been obtained from a report to Cabinet that was exempt from publication”.
This shows just how far Shropshire Council fails to understand that an open and challenging democracy is fundamental to way our country works. But in Shropshire, criticise the leadership and you are threatened with retraining, suspension or worse. The council leadership want to silence me. They want me to delete articles from my blog. No way. Never. Never. We are an open and challenging democracy. That is never easy. It is more often difficult. But it is the way our country works.
We disagree a lot in Shropshire Council meetings. That’s the way democracy works. But it seems that once Shropshire Council’s leaders are on dodgy ground, important matters are slapped into pink (confidential) papers. That allows the council leaders to take an exemption from telling the public what they are doing. I have recently reported what the council is planning with Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
The council leadership want to silence me on this. This is no more than a political complaint. I am confident that I have not released financial information that is not already available in the public domain from grant funders that are committed to openness and transparency and other sources. The other information I have released is covered by public interest rules. These rules protect our democracy. Our freedom of speech. Our freedom to challenge political leaders.
I aim to act for the public good of Ludlow. Do councillors Steven Charmley, Peter Nutting and Lezley Picton do the same? There is no evidence of that.
I am publishing the text of the complaint so that everyone knows just how Shropshire Council works.
The Council memo
Dear Councillor Boddington,
I am writing to tell you that an allegation that you have failed, or may have failed, to comply with the Code of Conduct of Shropshire Council has been received from Councillors Steven Charmley, Peter Nutting and Lezley Picton, of Shropshire Council.
It is alleged that, in an article posted on your website, you have published information which had been obtained from a report to Cabinet that was exempt from publication. It had been agreed that the information contained within the report was exempt from publication in accordance with paragraph 3 of schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1072 as it contained “information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).”
Any comments that you wish to make in relation to the allegation, or any suggestions of how the complaint can be resolved (for example, by offering to make an apology or removing the article), must be made in writing as soon as possible and will be taken into account when consideration is given to what, if any, further action is appropriate. At this stage all that will happen is that the allegation will be considered by the Monitoring Officer based solely on the information provided by you and the complainant along with any relevant information readily available such as minutes of Council meetings
Once a decision has been made you and the complainant will be told about the outcome and what will happen next.
At this stage you are advised not to contact anyone else as this could compromise you or the fairness of the process. However you may wish to seek some independent advice in relation to it.
You should also be aware that any written request for information made to the Authority about this matter will have to be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the law. This includes any obligations imposed on the Authority under Data Protection Legislation, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Human Rights Act 1998. If any request for information is received before the allegation is considered you will be contacted where it is considered appropriate or necessary to do so.
Please click on member complaints to find the procedure operated by Shropshire Council and if you have any queries about the process, please contact me.