‘Grass’ row leads to chair investigation

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An investigation has taken place against the chairman of the Carnaby Parish Council after a resident claimed he ‘ran over the road screaming at me’.

In May 2014, several complaints were made by Mr S Pease, of Carnaby, who claimed councillor Kitching shouted he had ‘grassed him and his wife up’.

Mr Pease said this incident referred to an alleged “breach of Code of Conduct” by councillor Kitching, who “failed to declare his wife’s employment under his pecuniary interests.”

Mr Pease has complained under Section 28(6) of the Localism Act 2011. Under paragraph 2(1) it states that “Councillors must treat others with respect”. Paragraph 2(3) states “You must not conduct yourself in a manner that could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute”.

In response to the complaint, councillor Kitching confirmed that his wife has a part-time job working two evening shifts a week at a local hotel and having discussed the matter with the Monitoring Officer, it was agreed that this be added onto his register at the next Parish Council meeting.

Councillor Kitching states he “approached Mr Pease and informed him that he would be declaring his wife’s part time job at Ferns Farm” and that “at no time during the short conservation was any shouting or screaming involved”.

Councillor Kitching also mentioned Mr Pease’s “obsessive behaviour” towards his family and received abusive letters from him.

He refers back to a parking issue with his neighbour back in July 2012 which he resolved immediately but believes this is the reason for Mr Pease’s actions.

Both parties confirmed there were no witnesses to the alleged incident. Mr Pease said: “The incident happened around 4.30pm on Friday 23 May in the narrow one track passage that runs round the back of the house we live in.

“Councillor Kitching ran over from his side of the road into the communal parking area, and shouted at me. I looked up, and he was charging down this alleyway right up to my face and began calling me a liar and a grass.

“He claimed I had reported his wife, Claire Denise Kitching, for working in the Ferns Farm (which I had not)”.

Councillor Kitching’s response states differently that he and Mr Pease were standing on a path at the rear of No 20 Main Street, Carnaby, two doors down from Mr Pease’s house.

In the Monitoring Officer’s report, Matthew Buckley said: “With regard to paragraph 2(3), members’ actions and behaviour are subject to greater scrutiny than that of ordinary members of the public and could be regarded as reducing public confidence in the authority being able to fulfil its functions and duties when acting in an official capacity.

“It is not considered that breaches of paragraphs 2(1) and 2(3) of the Code of Conduct have been disclosed.”

The report has been sent to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Standards Committee to decide the outcome of the case on 3 March 2015.