Officials accused of “wasting time” looking into councillor’s blog describing meeting as a “throwback to the 70s”

Councillor Graham Cox

The controversial blog post

First published in News by , local government reporter

A SENIOR Conservative councillor has criticised town hall lawyers for “wasting time and money” by asking him to explain his comment that a meeting between unions and senior staff was like “a throwback to the 70s”.

Graham Cox, who represents Westbourne on Brighton and Hove City Council, believes officials have wasted time and taxpayers’ money by looking into a blog post he wrote about the quarterly staff consultative forum.

The Tory councillor claimed it was “all pretty depressing”, adding that instead of working together, union representatives were divisive towards staff by making threats to strike.

Shortly after posting the comments, Coun Cox said he received a note from the council’s legal team saying they had received informal complaints and it “must be looked into”.

Coun Cox said: “It appears that if they disagree with what you say then they can complain to somebody who then has to look into it. How much time and money is that wasting?

“I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.”

The staff consultative forum is made up of the council’s chief executive, up to seven other senior council officers, six full-time trade union officials and five councillors.

Writing on his blog, Coun Cox said: “It’s all pretty depressing. Much of the talk is ‘management this’ and ‘trade unions that’. Most meetings include at least one threat of industrial action.

“No successful modern company operates like this. This management vs the workers stuff is a throwback to the 70s, British Leyland and the newspaper industry prior to its move from Fleet Street.”

The Argus understands no official complaint has been made, which means the comments are not being dealt with officially under the councillor standards procedure.

Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis, the council’s monitoring officer, said: “A query was raised with the council, but there is no complaint and there is no investigation being undertaken.”

Comments (13)

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12:33pm Fri 30 May 14

Martha Gunn says...

In what sense is Coun. Cox 'senior'?

He is certainly distinguished but is not a member of the Council's senior committee (Policy and Resources) and was elected as recently as 2011.

I do hope the use of 'senior' is not some sort of backdoor ageism.
Coun. Cox would not like that.
And he can be quite argumentative and perhaps even litigious.
In what sense is Coun. Cox 'senior'? He is certainly distinguished but is not a member of the Council's senior committee (Policy and Resources) and was elected as recently as 2011. I do hope the use of 'senior' is not some sort of backdoor ageism. Coun. Cox would not like that. And he can be quite argumentative and perhaps even litigious. Martha Gunn
  • Score: 8

12:57pm Fri 30 May 14

ZeeGee, ffs says...

He's right.

It's a pathetic waste of time and money.
He's right. It's a pathetic waste of time and money. ZeeGee, ffs
  • Score: 8

12:58pm Fri 30 May 14

Fight_Back says...

Oh dear - quite clearly council officers and councillors are on the witch hunt again. Let's remember that out of the three complaints against Dawn Barnett over the "golliwogs scandal" two were from council employees.

So here's a message to the union reps, council employees and councillors that have made this complaint - GET ON WITH YOUR JOBS !!!!! Rather than raising spurious and childish complaints against councillors because you don't like the party they represent.

It should be made public the names of those that have complained. I have a sneeking feeling we already know them !
Oh dear - quite clearly council officers and councillors are on the witch hunt again. Let's remember that out of the three complaints against Dawn Barnett over the "golliwogs scandal" two were from council employees. So here's a message to the union reps, council employees and councillors that have made this complaint - GET ON WITH YOUR JOBS !!!!! Rather than raising spurious and childish complaints against councillors because you don't like the party they represent. It should be made public the names of those that have complained. I have a sneeking feeling we already know them ! Fight_Back
  • Score: 10

1:14pm Fri 30 May 14

Goldenwight says...

"I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.”

No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts.

If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny.

Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)
"I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.” No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts. If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny. Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.) Goldenwight
  • Score: -12

1:17pm Fri 30 May 14

ZeeGee, ffs says...

Goldenwight wrote:
"I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.”

No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts.

If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny.

Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)
Could you please explain what was abusive about his comment?
[quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: "I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.” No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts. If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny. Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)[/p][/quote]Could you please explain what was abusive about his comment? ZeeGee, ffs
  • Score: 11

1:19pm Fri 30 May 14

Eugenius says...

Councillor Cox always writes cogently and explains his point of view clearly so I can't see this taking long to investigate - I would think minutes rather than hours. Hopefully an open and shut case. At the same time lawyers are not at fault for treating all complaints equally, that's correct procedure.
Councillor Cox always writes cogently and explains his point of view clearly so I can't see this taking long to investigate - I would think minutes rather than hours. Hopefully an open and shut case. At the same time lawyers are not at fault for treating all complaints equally, that's correct procedure. Eugenius
  • Score: -5

1:47pm Fri 30 May 14

Fight_Back says...

Goldenwight wrote:
"I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.”

No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts.

If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny.

Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)
There was nothing abusive in his post. And yes he IS accountable to the voters rather than unelected bureaucrats ..... thankfully.
[quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: "I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.” No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts. If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny. Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)[/p][/quote]There was nothing abusive in his post. And yes he IS accountable to the voters rather than unelected bureaucrats ..... thankfully. Fight_Back
  • Score: 10

2:04pm Fri 30 May 14

Valerie Paynter says...

Goldenwight wrote:
"I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.”

No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts.

If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny.

Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)
UKIP exists because of people like you.
[quote][p][bold]Goldenwight[/bold] wrote: "I’m accountable to the people that elect me; not union reps or council officers. It’s trying to gag an alternative point of view.” No, (former) Councillor, you are accountable to the law of the land. I appreciate that as a Conservative Councillor you feel otherwise but that does not alter the facts. If David Cameron were to post abusive comments on his twitter page (rather than in the House using Parliamentary Priviledge) he would be subject to exactly the same scrutiny. Your (private) comments have obviously offended. Because of your (public) position, the Council have a duty of care to their Council Tax Payers to investigate and reduce any possible liability on THEM arising because you choose to act like a naughty schoolchild who has been told he can't have baked beans for his tea. You should resign forthwith before you are voted out. But of course you won't, will you- that would be the honourable thing to do (look it up in a dictionary.)[/p][/quote]UKIP exists because of people like you. Valerie Paynter
  • Score: 4

2:13pm Fri 30 May 14

Fight_Back says...

And yet again Valerie you've made an assumption that is utterly wrong. I'm a UKIP supporter but don't condone anything Goldenwright has said.

That sort of blows apart your bigoted views doesn't it ?
And yet again Valerie you've made an assumption that is utterly wrong. I'm a UKIP supporter but don't condone anything Goldenwright has said. That sort of blows apart your bigoted views doesn't it ? Fight_Back
  • Score: 1

7:06pm Fri 30 May 14

Andy R says...

Martha Gunn wrote:
In what sense is Coun. Cox 'senior'?

He is certainly distinguished but is not a member of the Council's senior committee (Policy and Resources) and was elected as recently as 2011.

I do hope the use of 'senior' is not some sort of backdoor ageism.
Coun. Cox would not like that.
And he can be quite argumentative and perhaps even litigious.
An "argumentative" Cllr Cox would be a sight to behold on the Staff Consultation Forum. He maintains a Trappist vow of silence, takes no part and indeed shows no interest in what it does, whilst presumably still happily picking up the salary and expenses for attending.

He'll no doubt be aware (even if he hasn't thought to mention it) that the concerns were raised because he blogged about a meeting which is supposed to be confidential. But hey....no matter....at least the unions now know where they stand in that regard.

What really sticks in the throat is a councillor sitting on a committee he neither understands nor cares about - just so that he can misrepresent its work to advance his political agenda.
[quote][p][bold]Martha Gunn[/bold] wrote: In what sense is Coun. Cox 'senior'? He is certainly distinguished but is not a member of the Council's senior committee (Policy and Resources) and was elected as recently as 2011. I do hope the use of 'senior' is not some sort of backdoor ageism. Coun. Cox would not like that. And he can be quite argumentative and perhaps even litigious.[/p][/quote]An "argumentative" Cllr Cox would be a sight to behold on the Staff Consultation Forum. He maintains a Trappist vow of silence, takes no part and indeed shows no interest in what it does, whilst presumably still happily picking up the salary and expenses for attending. He'll no doubt be aware (even if he hasn't thought to mention it) that the concerns were raised because he blogged about a meeting which is supposed to be confidential. But hey....no matter....at least the unions now know where they stand in that regard. What really sticks in the throat is a councillor sitting on a committee he neither understands nor cares about - just so that he can misrepresent its work to advance his political agenda. Andy R
  • Score: 0

10:14pm Fri 30 May 14

ourcoalition says...

As the " throwback to the 70's" Trade Union referred to (and proud of it, as it achieves results for the members who elect me), lets be clear that Cllr Cox is being somewhat economical with the truth, here.

The meeting is a "Part 2", confidential meeting - I personally, think that it should be open and public, and there is no reason why not - and his breaking of that is what was being investigated.

Who decides it should be confidential - not the Unions or the Officers, but Councillors themselves!

Cllr Cox is well aware that is the case, so his claim of being "gagged" is a load of old tosh, designed to make a rather pathetic political point.

By the way, I didn't make a complaint of any kind - I have better things to do, like preventing UNISON members from losing their jobs due to the Councillors vindictive Governments policies.
As the " throwback to the 70's" Trade Union referred to (and proud of it, as it achieves results for the members who elect me), lets be clear that Cllr Cox is being somewhat economical with the truth, here. The meeting is a "Part 2", confidential meeting - I personally, think that it should be open and public, and there is no reason why not - and his breaking of that is what was being investigated. Who decides it should be confidential - not the Unions or the Officers, but Councillors themselves! Cllr Cox is well aware that is the case, so his claim of being "gagged" is a load of old tosh, designed to make a rather pathetic political point. By the way, I didn't make a complaint of any kind - I have better things to do, like preventing UNISON members from losing their jobs due to the Councillors vindictive Governments policies. ourcoalition
  • Score: -2

7:27am Sat 31 May 14

We love Red Billy says...

Is this the same Cllr Cox who is known as the 'green mole'? Rolled over and had his tummy scratched by Kitcat so many times it beggars belief.
Is this the same Cllr Cox who is known as the 'green mole'? Rolled over and had his tummy scratched by Kitcat so many times it beggars belief. We love Red Billy
  • Score: -1

9:15am Sat 31 May 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Can you imagine what goes on at the staff consultation forum. Can we **** in the microwave? Is it ok to **** in the mayor's office? Can we have soya milk in the canteen?
Can you imagine what goes on at the staff consultation forum. Can we **** in the microwave? Is it ok to **** in the mayor's office? Can we have soya milk in the canteen? Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 2

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