Sidlesham Parish Council in-fighting sparks probe

Investigations were launched after in-fighting broke out at a parish council, ending in a vote of no confidence – which was later withdrawn.

Sidlesham Parish Council has also seen the conduct of two parish councillors investigated by Chichester District Council’s standards board, after a complaint was made by Cllr Diana Pound regarding the conduct of chairman Adrian Harland and parish and district councillor for the parish Tricia Tull.

Sub-committees were called to investigate the complaint on March 23, and then reviewed on June 18. A vote of no confidence was called by Mrs Pound for July 25 but withdrawn.

The complaint concerns parish council meetings on January 1 and February 9 when reports from the Village Hall Working Group and the Emergency Planning Group (EPG) were received.

A report of the decision by the assessment sub-committee of the standards committee from March 23, seen by the Observer, outlines the details of the complaint: that Mr Harland and Mrs Tull breached the councillors’ code of conduct which says that councillors must treat others with respect, and they must not act in a way that would bring the authority into disrepute.

It stated the deputy coordinator of an energy planning group asked if he may clarify something in a report, to which Mr Harland replied, “No, you may not”. Mrs Tull then said she hoped he would not speak. The deputy coordinator subsequently resigned.

The report claimed Mrs Tull also ‘shrieked’ at a member of public who had asked a question about financial arrangements for the parish council at its meeting in November 2011. Mrs Tull apparently raised her voice again and said: “We never vote about who cuts the grass; why should we question the financial arrangements?” She also reportedly shouted ‘How dare you?’ to the man.

The standards board committee was ‘concerned and disappointed’ to note the allegations about the behaviour by Mr Harland and Mrs Tull (and others), which ‘could undermine the parish process’.

Neither Mrs Tull nor Mr Harland wanted to speak about the story.