Councillor claims protocol breach

Cllr O'Brien
Cllr O'Brien

A CLAIMED breach of protocol by Fife Council has got one Levenmouth councillor calling ‘foul’.

Councillor John O’Brien (pictured), who was voted in as an SNP member for Buckhaven, Methil and the Wemyss villages in 2012, says the authority breached established procedures on invitations extended to events to every councillor, regardless of political membership, where other ward members or council officials will be present.

On three occasions, Cllr O’Brien claims, he was left out of council visits to Levenmouth venues when he should have been notified.

He has now written to the authority to raise his complaint formally.

Cllr O’Brien told the Mail that, in August, he wasn’t notified of a council visit to Methil Haven care home, which was attended by Cllrs Andrew Rodger, David Graham and Judy Hamilton.

In November, Fife Provost Jim Leishman, Cllr Rodger and Cllr Hamilton were again at the home and, again, Cllr O’Brien says he wasn’t informed, before, in December, Cllr Mark Hood and the Provost visited Kirkland High School.

Cllr O’Brien told the Mail: “It is with deep regret that a formal complaint has had to be made to the chief executive of the council after several incidents where the administration has ignored established protocols.

“I was left with no choice.

“It is not the personal disrespect that I find disturbing, it is the lack of respect for the proper procedures.

“If the administration is prepared to ignore these most basic of rules, I am left to wonder what else it might be up to out of the public gaze.”

Quoting the council’s guidance on protocol, Cllr O’Brien said the advice given to them states ‘all councillors in a ward should be kept informed of official engagements of senior councillors, including the Provost.

‘It is the responsibility of the senior councillor to ensure all other members are informed of their official engagements and, in normal circumstances, at least three days notice of an official engagement should be provided.’

In response, council executive director Mike Enston said the authority was aware of Cllr O’Brien’s complaint.

Mr Enston told the Mail the protocols were written primarily to advise and offer guidance for high profile and VIP visits.

“Advice is less clear for more informal occasions and we are currently reviewing this to make sure officers and councillors are clear on what arrangements should be put in place,” he added.

“In the meantime, we have also agreed to draw the terms of the current protocol to the attention of officers and ask that they bear in mind the need to involve all ward councillors in appropriate events.”

Cllr O’Brien is also the head of the Levenmouth based LOST organisation, set up in memory of his son Lee to advise on the dangers of solvent abuse.