Leader of Hatfield Town Council ‘disgusted’ after investigation finds he breached ethics code by bullying
PUBLISHED: 16:50 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:13 01 October 2020
Danny Loo Photography 2017
The leader of Hatfield Town Council Cllr Lenny Brandon breached the town council’s code of conduct for councillors, an official hearing has found.
Welwyn Hatfield’s standards sub-committee determined that Cllr Brandon had breached the code, after hearing allegations that he had bullied a senior employee of the town council.
However they did not find sufficient evidence to support other allegations that he had failed to declare relevant interests or excluded town council staff from meetings with contractors, or potential contractors.
Nor did they find there was sufficient evidence to support allegations that Cllr Brandon obtained a personal benefit from a number of town council contracts.
The claims – made in September 2019 – all relate to Cllr Brandon’s role on the town council, and not in his role as a borough councillor.
The hearing – which concluded at 11.44pm on Tuesday, September 29 – followed a formal investigation onto the allegations.
Throughout the process Cllr Brandon has continued to reject the allegations and when the decision was announced by sub-committee chair Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Cllr Brandon said, “I am quite disgusted”.
Most of the virtual meeting – which lasted for more than four and a half hours – was held in private, after councillors decided it was likely to lead to the disclosure of confidential or exempt information, and only the announcement of the decision and the sanctions were broadcast online.
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Announcing the sanctions, leader of WHBC Cllr Tony Kingsbury said the sub-committee would publish the findings, report the findings to Hatfield Town Council and recommend “appropriate training” for Cllr Brandon.
The sub-committee also recommended that there be a root-and-branch review of training to cover performance training, in order to promote a high conduct amongst all members.
Responding, Cllr Brandon said: “I do not accept the opinion and it is certainly not the case that I have bullied anyone and maintain there was simply no evidence offered to support this surprising conclusion.
“I raised concerns with this process from the outset. I feel it is a dangerous precedent to decide ‘on balance’ this was the case when the balance of opinion is clearly to the contrary.
“I am committed to leading Hatfield Town Council to be the very best that it can for residents, delivering value and quality services. I hope that this ruling has not made that task and the basic duty of any elected representative more difficult, but I fear it will.”
The standards sub-committee included Conservative Cllr Tony Kingsbury, Liberal Democrat Cllr Paul Zukowskyj and Labour Cllr Alan Chesterman with Welwyn parish councillor Bill Morris also present.
Borough councils are responsible for investigating and deciding on complaints against town and parish councils situated within its area.
According to the committee papers, the cost of the investigation – which was funded by the borough council – is estimated to be £15,000.
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