Complaint against councillor

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A COUNCILLOR telephoned a school to complain about a teacher who quizzed him at a council meeting.

Ged Hall is now facing an investigation after teacher David Riddle responded with a complaint of his own to civic chiefs.

Mr Riddle, a teacher at English Martyrs School & Sixth Form College in Hartlepool, says he is “disgusted” that Labour councillor Mr Hall phoned the school’s headteacher Michael Lee to complain about questions posed at a recent full council meeting.

The 35-year-old said the issue was not school-related, yet he was still called into the Mr Lee’s office to explain what had happened and the teacher believes Coun Hall has broken the councillor’s code of conduct.

Mr Riddle has called on Coun Hall to resign and says if he does not stand down he will stand against him for election in the Burn Valley ward in 2015.

Coun Hall said he never asked for any sanctions against Mr Riddle but felt it was necessary for Mr Lee to know that the teacher was “making allegations that were untrue”.

The row centres over questions Mr Riddle asked at a recent full council meeting regarding the awarding of contracts.

Mr Riddle, who believes his questions were “perfectly legitimate”, said Coun Hall informed Mr Lee that he was taking legal advice with a view to potentially pursuing defamation claims against the teacher.

Mr Riddle, who is married and lives in the Burn Valley ward area, said: “Frankly, I’m disgusted by Coun Hall’s conduct.

“Asking supplementary questions is my constitutional right as a citizen of this town.

“I work in a school and, as well as educating people, part of my job is to teach people not to try to intimidate others, to treat them with respect and not to bully anyone.

“I’d like to know, what exactly was his motivation for contacting my boss in my work place?”

Coun Hall said: “I did not call his headteacher with a view to him taking any sanctions whatsoever, I never asked for that.

“I thought he should know, for Mr Riddle’s own protection, that he was going round making allegations that were untrue.”

Coun Hall, an accountant based in town, added: “In no way did I suggest that he should resign or that he should be spoken to in any way by his headteacher.

“If Mr Lee saw fit to speak to him, he must have thought it was serious enough to speak to him.”

On Wednesday night, councillors agreed to axe supplementary questions at full council meetings from May as part of the new constitution, despite objections from some members that it stifles democracy.

Mr Riddle added: “If this is how he feels it appropriate to treat the public, then in my view, he has no place as an elected councillor.

“He should resign.”

Coun Hall, who said he is happy to meet with Mr Riddle to discuss his concerns, added: “Of course I won’t resign because I have not done anything wrong.”

A council spokesman confirmed a complaint alleging a breach of the code of conduct had been received and is now subject to the local authority’s complaints procedure. This may result in a hearing of the standards committee.

Michael Lee, headteacher of English Martyrs School & Sixth Form College, said: “Given that Coun Hall had contacted me, I spoke informally to Mr Riddle to help me ascertain whether this was a matter which involved the school and I am satisfied that it is not a matter which involves the school in any way.”