‘Condescending’ Cllr Anonymously Exonerated
- – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, reporting on the arguably predictable outcome of another futile Formal Complaint.
Regular readers may recall my article “Suffer The Little Children?” (pub. 16/07/22), in which I revealed, to a wider public, the high-handed, condescending, disrepectful and offensive conduct of ERYC Councillor Geraldine MATHIESON [Ind.], following her remarks at a meeting of ERYC Full Council on Wednesday 22nd June 2022.
Councillor MATHIESON likened members of the public to “children” from whom it was best to conceal information concerning the Council’s activities. She said:
“I see our role as Councillors as being somewhat like being a parent.
And, as a good parent, you don’t – you have to act in the best interests of your children.
It does not always involve asking children what they want – or what they think – at every opportunity.
Sometimes, it actually involves NOT telling them things that might confuse or frighten them unnecessarily.”
(Video available here).
The ERYC Standards Committee Assessment Sub-Committee finally considered my Formal Complaint on 3rd October 2022.
I received, on Monday 10th October 2022, a formal Decision Notice (see below) marked “No Further Action” in respect of my Formal Complaint of 11th July 2022, indicating that the Standards Assessment Sub-Committee, having taken into account the opinion of the (anonymous) Reserve Independent Person, had determined to exonerate Councillor MATHIESON. Justice, having been long delayed, was finally denied.
Nevertheless, the Reserve Independent Person did concede that Councillor MATHIESON’s remarks were indeed “condescending”, taking the view that this was not necessarily “offensive” – and therefore not a breach of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct. Councillor MATHIESON’s remark was the most offensive remark by a serving Councillor to her electors that I have heard since the then SBC Councillor Andrew JENKINSON [Con.] described the people of Scarborough as “thick” – which cost him his seat.
In both cases, I find such arrogance a sickening abuse of entrusted ‘power’ and a shameless betrayal of Councillors’ primary purpose – to serve.
It is possible that English is not the native language of the Reserve Independent Person, who may in the future benefit from memorizing the standard dictionary definition of “offensive”:
“Insulting, rude, derogatory, disrespectful . . .”
Taking offence is a subjective reaction – not unlike feeling bullied. The Reserve Independent Person is clearly oblivious to those who found Councillor MATHIESON’s remarks “offensive”.
In point of fact, the Standards Committee Assessment Sub-Committee need never have been convened, as can be seen from the following entirely reasonable paragraph cited from my Formal Complaint to the then-Monitoring Officer (since retired) Mr Mathew BUCKLEY (dated 11/07/22), when I wrote:
To spare the public purse the costs of pursuing an investigation and/or hearing into Councillor MATHIESON’s conduct, I would be satisfied to accept Councillor MATHIESON’s unconditional apology, for publication, not later than close-of-play (i.e. 5:00pm) on Wednesday 13th (unlucky for some) July 2022, forwarded to me at my private email address, by your good self.
However, on the following day (12/07/22), I received an email from ERYC Senior Committee Manager, Mr Jon WHYLEY, stating:
I’d be grateful if you could confirm whether you still wish me to process your complaint as it stands, notwithstanding that the Monitoring Officer is unable to comply with the element of your request relating to making an approach to Councillor Mathieson to seek an apology.
“Unable”? Hmmm. Was the former Monitoring Officer really ‘unable’ to contact Councillor MATHIESON? Hardly. Or was he attempting to protect her from the inevitable public humiliation associated with a Standards reprimand?
I find it “offensive”, however, that the Standards Committee Assessment Sub-Committee should cast doubt – at 6.1(c) of the Decision Notice (see below) – on my efforts to allow Councillor MATHIESON an opportunity to publish an apology, when it is clear that former Monitoring Officer BUCKLEY deliberately withheld that opportunity from Councillor MATHIESON. Clearly, he had already determined to get her off the hook.
Nevertheless, I am grateful for receiving written confirmation of my long-held suspicion that Councillors are free to practice what is known as ‘Mushroom Management’ on their electors (i.e. their paymasters – Councillor Mathieson was in receipt of £12,190 last year, from the public purse – provided by the “children” she treats with “condescension”), with total impunity:
The underlying truth is that Officers generally go out of their way to protect Councillors from any embarrassment caused by their own stupidity, thereby ensuring their unquestioning future compliance. So easily does the tail wag the dog.
On a brighter note, East Riding of Yorkshire Council will be holding elections next May. Even the “children” in Councillor MATHIESON’s ward know how to use Google when evaluating election candidates . . .
DECISION NOTICE – LA/SASC/402/Mathieson/East Riding of Yorkshire