Johnson backs disgraced McWilliams

Councillor Andrew Johnson, the Leader of the Council, and the Chairman of Cabinet, has offered disgraced councillor, Ross McWilliams his “strong support”.

This despite Cllr McWilliams being found guilty of “bringing his role and local authority into disrepute”.

Cllr Johnson’s spin is to misrepresent the findings of the standards panel by deliberately confusing the verdict with the lack of punishment.

“The verdict of the standards panel is clear that it does not believe that any sanction should be applied.” 

In the unspun world of facts, the unanimous verdict of the panel was that Cllr McWilliams is guilty of a breach of the Code of Conduct.

That the panel chose not to impose any sanction does not mitigate Cllr McWilliams’ guilt nor does it absolve Cllr Johnson of his overarching duty to protect the reputation of our Royal Borough.

This disingenuous approach looks more like following than leading to us.

Perhaps the “Leader of the Council” cannot face up to the fact that this disaster was all his own making? He personally nominated Cllr McWilliams to the planning panel at Council in July 2021.

Cllr John Baldwin (Lib Dem, Belmont,) objected then, citing the obvious conflict of interest with Cllr McWilliams’ role as Lead Member for Housing.

His concerns were brushed aside with vague assurances that “…the usual declarations on conflict…” would suffice.

Instead of listening to good advice, albeit from an inconvenient source, the “Leader of the Council” abjectly failed to properly supervise his appointee, allowing Cllr McWilliams to –

  • Make multiple public references to the desirability of approving application 21/02866 (Deerswood Meadow) prior to it being considered (clear evidence of pre-determination)
  • Ignore the advice of the Monitoring Officer to recuse himself
  • Fail to publicly declare a professional connection to the applicant

We will never know how much of the background the “Leader of the Council” was aware of at the time. But we do know that he knows it all now.

Yet still he refuses to act decisively and, by allowing Councillor McWilliams to remain in his many posts, is equally as guilty of “bringing his role and local authority into disrepute”.

Johnson backs disgraced McWilliams
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