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.”