Appeal lodged after Pendle Tory councillor kicked off council for lack of attendance

A Pendle Tory councillor has been removed from Pendle Borough Council, due to a lack of attendance at meetings, prompting his party to make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

By Dominic Collis
Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 10:32 am

Coun. Steven Petty, Horsfield ward councillor in Colne, is now awaiting the decision from the independent body after Pendle Council upheld its original decision.

The Pendle Conservative group is angry as no meetings were held during the two months of lockdown.

Coun. Petty, a goalkeeping coach and well known figure at Colne Cricket Club, said: "I missed the meeting at the beginning of March, though none of us could have known there was going to be a global pandemic then.

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Coun. Steve Petty

"Pendle Borough Council cancelled all meetings in April and May, so no one attended any during those months. Then, the council moved all the meetings to the afternoons. I immediately told the council, in writing, that I could not attend daytime meetings, as I have a full-time job as a paint shop manager for a stairlift company. I am classed as an Essential Worker.”

Coun. Petty did attend the on-line meeting of Colne Area Committee on August 6th, which was the first one for Colne councillors that was held in the evening. On August 10th, he was informed by e-mail that he had been disqualified for non-attendance on August 5th.

He added: “I signed up to be a councillor attending evening meetings and I wrote straight away, as did some of my colleagues, to say daytime meetings were impossible for me.

"This has to have happened in other parts of the country too, because for a third of the time there were no meetings at all.”

Coun. Petty has won the support of his party's MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson.

Mr Stephenson commented: “I am very disappointed by Pendle Council’s behaviour. Steve behaved entirely properly. He wrote to Pendle Council’s Committee Section to explain that he could not attend the re-arranged daytime meetings.

"He received a written response from the head of that section that reassured him he would be fine, as long as he attended the first evening meeting on August 6th. He did this, received private papers and voted, yet according to them, he was not a sitting councillor at the time. They simply can’t have it both ways.”

A spokesman for Pendle Council told Leader Times Newspapers they would not be commenting until after next week's full council meeting at which the matter will be discussed.