Monday, January 16, 2006

The Standards Board of England and Wales emerged out of the Nolan Commission on Standards in Public Life. Its purpose was to ensure that local authority elected members, when acting in their capacity as a councillor, behaved with propriety and also that some of the more horrific instances of abuse of officers by members, and vice versa, was curtailed. Well, Councillor Tom Ansell, the Conservative Leader of Walsall Council, has given me 7 days to apologise to the people of Walsall for innocuous comments made on this blog site... or he will report me to the Standards Board. Normally I would treat his correspondence as private, but given that he chose to embark on a tirade of abuse against me on the radio on Friday, including his threat of the Standards Board, I will print the text of my reply here.:

Dear Councillor Ansell,

Thank you for your letter dated 13 January about the article on my Weblog. I have re-read the item that you appear to think insults the people of Walsall and I cannot find anything in the remarks I have made which make any reference at all to the people of Walsall, and I cannot, therefore, find anything to apologise to them about.

In fact, in my 24 years working in Walsall I found the Walsall people to be amongst the nicest people I have ever met and worked alongside, albeit very badly served over the years by their elected representatives. I deeply resent your malicious assertion that I have insulted them in any way whatsoever.

On that basis you will not be receiving any apology from me at all, and if you wish to waste even more time and public money making this frivolous reference to the Standards Board, do so. Censoring elected members free speech by using the Standards Board might be the way you deal with issues in your Borough, it will not wash with the Standards Board which was created to deal with serious issues such as the bullying of Officers by Members, which you will be more than aware of in Walsall. Personally, I would have thought someone in your position would find better ways to spend their time, but that is up to you.

Incidentally, the compromise agreement signed by myself and the Council states that neither Party will make or publish any derogatory or disparaging statement intended to damage or lower the reputations of the other. I have deliberately avoided making any statement or remarks of a derogatory nature about the Council, its Officers or Elected Members in the written media, on the radio, or even on my weblog. You, on the other hand have not respected that contract and have made insulting statements about myself in the Chronicle newspaper and on Radio WM. Perhaps when you are making your ridiculous reference to the Standards Board you would like to provide them with these remarks. If you do not, I will.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Piper