Probe after councillor

By Roddy AshworthTHE conduct of a councillor is under investigation following allegations she swore at a town clerk and “jokingly” threatened him with violence.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE conduct of a councillor is under investigation following allegations she swore at a town clerk and “jokingly” threatened him with violence.

West Mersea town councillor Sylvia Wargent admitted insulting clerk David Tucker, but said she could not recall threatening him with violence.

Mrs Wargent agreed she might have said she would have Mr Tucker “filled in” after a meeting, but pointed out if so, it had happened in a private office and had been in jest.

Katie Inman, a spokeswoman for the Standards Board for England, confirmed a complaint about Mrs Wargent had been considered and referred for an official investigation.

“I can confirm that the board have received an allegation regarding Sylvia Wargent and it has been put out to be investigated,” she added.

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The allegations being investigated were whether Mrs Wargent failed to treat others with respect, brought the authority into disrepute or improperly used a position to seek or confer advantage or disadvantage

The allegations relate to events following a West Mersea Town Council meeting on January 9.

Mrs Wargent said: “In my view I was provoked by the clerk. After the meeting, I called him a name, which I do not deny. But as a councillor, I am not allowed to say that.

“As a result of this, the mayor decided to report me to the standards board instead of dealing with it.”

Mrs Wargent said she had a high profile in West Mersea and added: “I am a very hard working councillor and I have done an awful lot for Mersea - and most people know that.”

After the incident, Mrs Wargent went to the back office, where it is alleged she threatened to have the clerk “filled in”.

She said: “We had gone to the back office and everybody was mucking about, basically. A lot of stupid things were said. Half of it was a joke, like a situation comedy. It had almost turned into a farce.

“I may have said all sorts of things. I may have said that, I don't know. Everybody was making a joke of it.”

Mr Tucker declined to comment on the matter pending the outcome of the inquiry.

West Mersea mayor, Alan Mogridge, said: “I can confirm the matter is being dealt with by the Standards Board of England, but I have no further comment to make.”

Ms Inman said the complaint had been passed to the standards investigation team last month.

“At the moment there can be three possible outcomes to the investigation,” she explained.

“We can find there is no evidence there has been a breach of the code, we can find there is evidence of a breach, but no further action is required, or we can make a recommendation that the case should be put to the Adjudication Panel for England.

“That panel has the power to suspend a member for up to one year or disqualify them from holding office for up to five years.”

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