An independent councillor has apologised to a Green colleague for making remarks about her age which had the “potential to amount to a breach” of a code of conduct.
Councillor Bridget Fishleigh posted the apology on her Facebook page – Bridget By The Sea – as well as sending it by email to Councillor Amy Heley.
When Councillor Heley took the chair of a key Brighton and Hove City Council policy committee, Councillor Fishleigh wrote: “So now a 24-year old is in charge of transport, Cityclean, recycling and a raft of other vital services across the city.”
She said that she had looked at Councillor Heley’s Linkedin page and added: “There are many reasons why you don’t find 24-year olds in senior management positions in FTSE 500 companies.”
It prompted a complaint from Councillor Heley, who left BHASVIC (Brighton, Hove And Sussex VI Form College) six years ago with three A-grade A levels before completing a degree in modern languages at Bristol University.
Today (Friday 4 December), Councillor Fishleigh wrote: “My point was a general one about her experience. I had no intention of causing offence. For this, I am sorry.”
Here is what Councillor Fishleigh posted on her Facebook page today: “This post is my public apology to Councillor Amy Heley. I have apologised privately by email too. An apology she has kindly accepted.
“You may be wondering why I am apologising – or struggling to remember the details – so it’s only right that I make it clear what I am apologising for.
“Background – On (Saturday) 19 September I posted a link to the story below ‘cycle lane chief facing a backlash over controversial lanes has quit his role’.
“I wrote, ‘So now a 24-year old is in charge of transport, Cityclean, recycling and a raft of other vital services across the city.’
“Having viewed the Linkedin page of the 24-year-old, I then observed: ‘There are many reasons why you don’t find 24-year olds in senior management positions in FTSE 500 companies.’
“As a result, Councillor Heley raised a formal ‘standards’ complaint, believing that the comments I made were ageist and against the Equality Act.
“The complaint was considered by the council’s monitoring officer and an independent person outside the council who decided that my reference to Councillor Heley’s age ‘does have potential to amount to a breach of the code’.
“You can read the Code of Conduct for Councillors here.
“Extract: ‘When carrying out their public role, members must adhere to the seven principles of public life – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.’
“While I did reference a fact that Councillor Heley had herself already stated in the public realm, I did not intend to refer to her in a way that could be construed as ageist.
“My point was a general one about her experience. I had no intention of causing offence. For this, I am sorry.
“Of course, I wish Councillor Heley all the best in tackling some huge problems in our city. On the plus side, she has kindly agreed to meet me for a bike ride around the area I represent from Sussex Square to West Saltdean.
“She is the person who can make things happen for us – so I’ll be sure to post here to ensure I have all our transport issues covered – undercliff, Rottingdean planter, congestion, etc, etc – as well as bin collections, weeds on pavements and other ongoing problems.
“As agreed with Councillor Heley and the council’s lawyers, I am going to try to disable comments on this post.”
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