A COUNCIL boss has ruled that a remark comparing the behaviour of Pendle Conservatives to ‘Nazi and Stalinist regimes’ was ‘political knockabout’.
Coun David Whipp, community safety cabinet member, has been told he will face no further action over the comments made at a West Craven area committee meeting.
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But Tories in the borough are angry at the decision by Philip Mousdale, the borough council’s deputy chief executive and standards officer, after interviewing officers and councillors who were present.
Coun Lyle Davy, a relatively new member of the committee, had lodged a standards complaint against Coun Whipp, also a county councillor, claiming his remarks were ‘deeply, deeply offensive and disgusting’.
Mr Mousdale, in a letter to Coun Davy, said Coun Whipp had used the ‘simile’ to describe the Conservatives’ conduct in only having representative from their party on a premises improvements grant panel.
The deputy chief executive also noted that the comments were not challenged by Tory members present at the time, nor was there any indication that they were considered ‘untoward’. He also quizzed council staff as witnesses.
Mr Mousdale added: “Whilst they were slightly surprised by the comments they did not recall them causing consternation among those present at the meetings, nor did they feel they were outlandish.
“My view is that the comments were not of a personal nature but rather were a political criticism directed at a political group's action rather than at the individual members of that group. I feel they come within the sphere of political ‘knockabout’ rather than showing a lack of respect.
“I can see that as a new councillor you may be unused to this and may even have found it hurtful but in all the circumstances I do not consider there is any benefit to be gained by me taking any further action on the complaint.”
Later Coun Whipp said: “Mr Mousdale has better things to do than waste time on frivolous politically-motivated complaints. The Conservatives should know better.”
A spokesman for Pendle Conservatives said: “The fact that David Whipp, a representative of the Lib Dems, can compare the Conservative Party to Nazis and get away with it is shocking, but controversy is his style.
“The fact that the deputy chief executive of Pendle Council classes members of his council being likened to Nazis as a ‘political knockabout’ completely belittles the atrocities that were suffered under the hands of that regime.”