Councillor’s good deed ends in probe

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A COUNCILLOR was left stunned after he made a report about dumped rubbish and was then reported to standards watchdogs for fly-tipping.

Army veteran Allan Barclay, 58, had his name “dragged through the mud” for nine months before he was finally cleared of any wrong doing.

Today he declared the whole investigation a “waste of council time”.

Problems started in February last year after the Throston ward councillor left his blue recycle bin out to be collected at the back lane of his home on a Thursday morning in the town’s Leyburn Street.

But when he went to collect it the following morning there was only one bin left in the street which was full of metal cake tins.

He contacted Hartlepool Borough Council’s refuse department which told him bin men would be able to collect them that day.

As he had to attend a hospital appointment, he left the tins in the back lane, knowing his yard would be locked and no one would be able to gain access.

He was approached by another resident – but explained his actions and thought nothing of it.

When he returned, the tins had been collected.

But he was stunned when he was informed by the council that a complaint had been made against him for fly-tipping and the case referred to the local authority’s standards board.

Coun Barclay, who was medically discharged from the Army after 25 years service, said: “I reported and got rid of the problem. You do not have to be a councillor to report things that are wrong.

“I needed to go to a hospital appointment that morning but I phoned the council afterwards and by lunchtime the tins had been removed.

“Yet I was reported for fly-tipping.

The standards board investigated the problem. A meeting to discuss the issue was not held until November 29 last year when Coun Barclay was informed there was no case to answer.

But Coun Barclay, who was voted into office in May 2010, had the claims hanging over his head for nine months and the official findings were not published until this week.

Coun Barclay, who served with the Royal Engineers between 1969-1994 and had four tours in Northern Ireland and saw service in Saudi Arabia, Germany and Belgium, says his name has been dragged through the mud after it was alleged “he had acted in such a way as to bring his office and the authority into disrepute”.

He said: “I am pleased that I have been exonerated because I was only doing what any right-thinking member of society would and report a problem.

“There was no point me taking the tins back to my house because my yard is sealed and the council would not be able to collect them.

“The tins were quite large and filled the recycling box.

“It is a relief because this has been hanging over me for a number of months and people have been bad-mouthing me. My name was dragged through the mud.”

“This was a complete waste of the standards board and officer time, but when somebody is demanding the board considers it, there is no other option.”

A notice published in the Hartlepool Mail from the council’s chief solicitor, Peter Devlin, read: “It was alleged that Councillor Barclay had acted in such a way as to bring his office and the authority into disrepute.

“The matter was referred to the monitoring officer of the council for investigation. The findings of the investigation was a finding of no fault based on the evidence gathered and material facts of the case.

“The consideration sub-committee of the standards committee considered the report of the investigation and agreed with the finding of no fault and consequently that Councillor Barclay had not breached the Members’ Code of Conduct.”