THE COMPLAINANT in an incident which saw a Wrexham Councillor suspended for three months says he should not become the next Mayor.
Last week Brymbo Councillor Paul Rogers (Ind), the current Deputy Mayor, was suspended for three months after an ombudsman investigation into an incident outside Ysgol Tanyfron two years ago.
Cllr Rogers is due to succeed Cllr Brian Cameron, the current Mayor of Wrexham, in May.
The Ombudsman received a complaint from a member of the public that Cllr Rogers had breached the Code of Conduct when he made an alleged false complaint about the complainant to the police, relating to the incident which occurred on a bus.
The complainant, Thea Wicksted, a mum-of-two, has spoken to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) to say she is happy with the outcome Ombudsman investigation, but feels Cllr Rogers should not become the next Mayor of Wrexham.
Ms Wicksted said Cllr Rogers’ actions fell short of the standards expected of someone in public office.
“It was a minor incident that didn’t need his involvement”, she said.
“A PCSO came round to my house at 9pm to speak to me about a breach of the peace. My kids thought I was being arrested. Thankfully I was able to explain myself and no action was taken but it was a horrible ordeal.”
According to the findings of the ombudsman, Cllr Rogers emailed the police and stated the complainant had been very aggressive, and believed her behaviour amounted to a breach of the peace or a public order offence. He was also concerned about personal comments made to him by the complainant, and suggested that he had been subject to unwarranted verbal abuse.
The Ombudsman obtained information from the police and CCTV footage from the bus company. Having considered the information available, they did not consider that the complainant appeared aggressive as suggested by Cllr Rogers and found that the comments made by the complainant related to issues which were public knowledge. On the basis of the information available, the ombudsman did not consider they could reasonably be considered ‘verbal abuse’.
The Ombudsman concluded that Cllr Rogers’ correspondence to the police was misleading or exaggerated and that his behaviour was suggestive of a breach of the Code of Conduct. The Ombudsman also concluded that attempting to misuse his position in this way, and wrongly accusing someone of committing a public order offence, is capable of bringing the member’s office or authority into disrepute – and is suggestive of a breach of the Code of Conduct.
The Ombudsman referred the report to the Monitoring Officer of Wrexham Council for consideration by its Standards Committee. The committee determined that Cllr Rogers had breached the Code and suspended him from both the county council and community council for three months.
Ms Wicksted added: “I couldn’t believe this man was a councillor.
“I was so angry and upset – this man is in a position of trust. At no point has he apologised or admitted that he misjudged the situation.
“I’m extremely happy with the ombudsman investigation, they were fantastic and very fair.
“I wish the punishment was longer as I don’t feel he has taken any responsibility. This isn’t a witch-hunt but I really do feel someone like this should not be Mayor of Wrexham.”
A spokesman for the ombudsman said: “The (Wrexham Council) Standards Committee concluded that Councillor Paul Rogers had brought his office as a councillor and the Council into disrepute and that he had misused his position to create a disadvantage for another person.
“Accordingly, the Standards Committee decided that Councillor Paul Rogers should be suspended for three months.
“As the purpose of the ethical standards framework in Wales is to promote high standards for councillors and to maintain public confidence in local democracy, the Ombudsman welcomed the decision to suspend the Councillor and thanked the members of the Standards Committee for their careful consideration of the case.”
Speaking to the LDRS this week, Cllr Rogers said: “I have nothing further to add to the statement issued last week that two years ago there was a disagreement between a driver of a bus and a car outside Ysgol Tanyfron. The incident lasted around 40 minutes.”
“At the time I acted in good faith in the interests of children, parents and passengers to try and resolve the situation.
“I respect the Committee’s decision and accept the short suspension I have been given.”
Cllr Rogers added: “The CCTV footage will show the events that took place and with the agreement of the complainant I would be happy for this to be made public.”
Wrexham Council’s Standards Committee is due to publish a statement on its decision in the coming days.