At least one councillor fails to respond to complaints, according to report

At least one councillor has failed to respond to official complaints about their conduct, according to a report going before a committee next week.

The report to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Audit and Standards Committee cited five outstanding complaints from this year and 2021 where the councillor concerned had not responded to “any communications”.

Papers released before the meeting next Tuesday (29 November) said that two complaints about Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth, who is not named in the meeting papers, were subject to a formal investigation because they were considered to involve a potential breach of the council’s code of conduct.

Nine complaints were received after online exchanges about a story in the Daily Mail in February headlined: “Parent fury as Brighton primary schools tell staff NOT to say ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ and use ‘grown ups’ instead to avoid stigmatising ‘non-traditional’ families”.

Spacewords Brighton

At the time, the council published a statement: “Recent reports claiming four Brighton schools are not allowing the words’ mum’ and ‘dad’ to be used are untrue.”

The report said that the council received no response to any communication from Councillor Nemeth about the nine complaints or the decision to carry out further investigations into two of them, given the serial numbers E/2022 and J/2022.

Councillor Nemeth and the Conservative group were approached for comment.

In a separate case, the first complaint received by the council this year was about a councillor’s comments about a member of the public on social media.

In the case given the number A/2022, the unnamed councillor was asked to delete their comment by the council’s monitoring officer Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis but did not respond.

A formal investigation is under way after Mr Ghebre-Ghiorghis and one of the council’s “independent persons” agreed that the complaint was “sufficiently serious”.

The same councillor was subject to two other complaints, numbered M1/2021 and N1/2021, concerning social media comments on behalf of their political group, which is unnamed in the report.

The report said: “That member responded to communications sent as part of this process, including an email letting them know that their conduct was considered to have the potential to amount to a breach of the code.

“Although they did not apologise for their conduct, they gave a clear account of the context in which they made the decision to respond in terms which gave rise to the complaints.”

The monitoring officer and independent person are taking no further action on these two complaints as it would “not be proportionate and necessary in the public interest”.

Councillor Robert Nemeth

Two separate complaints, numbered F1/2021 and O1/2021, about social media posts by another unnamed councillor from 2021 – who the report states did not “engage with the complaints process” – were also resolved after the comments were deleted without an apology.

Since the last Audit and Standards Committee meeting in June, the council has received nine new complaints, with five resolved.

The four outstanding issues, numbered W/2022, X/2022, Y/2022 and Z/2022, are in the preliminary assessment stage.

Two, W and X, are by two people against the same unnamed councillor regarding their response on a ward matter, which allegedly breaches the code of conduct.

Case Y/2022 provides more evidence to the previously dismissed complaint numbered U/2022, saying that an unnamed councillor made a representation about a planning application when they had a conflict of interest.

The final complaint in the preliminary assessment concerns an unnamed councillor’s activities about “proposals” in their ward.

The council’s Audit and Standards Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 4pm on Tuesday (29 November). The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. Mike Beasley Reply

    add to that – cllr Lloyd , who has a declared conflict of interest – working for Sustrans – but denies it affects his actions on Transport matters .

  2. What public standards? Reply

    The behaviour, of some of these councillors is pretty shocking. It’s interesting one gets named and others don’t. Is cllr Nemeth being publicly shamed because he’s questioned application of council ‘policy’? Certainly Jamie Lloyd and others appear abuse their ‘power’ in ways that call into question public standards on a regular basis. I hope the council gets on top of it or it makes a mockery of this committee, any complaints process, and also the credibility of this council.

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