End of the line for Anston Parish Council? Talks of disbandment after dozens of complaints receieved and councillor ‘slaps’ member of public

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Anston Parish Council could have to pay £8,000 for specialist intervention or face disbandment after 35 complaints were made against its members in two and a half years.

One of its councillors, Stuart Thornton, has also been formally censured for assaulting a member of the public, allegedly slapping him across the face, after an parish council meeting in April 2013.

The complaints, relating to alleged breaches of conduct, were made to monitoring officer Jacqueline Collins in the last 30 months, according to a report presented to Rotherham Council’s standard’s committee on Thursday 19th March.

When asked about the complaints, chair of Anston Parish Council, John Ireland, said: “The only complaints I am aware of relate to an individual parish counctillor and not the parish council as a whole.”

The standards committee expressed frustration at the ‘lack of effective solutions to deal with poor conduct by elected members.’

It voted to potpone making a decision about how to deal with the council until after the May elections.

If the complaints persist, there could be an intervention by a parish council expert and a consultancy firm led by a former senior officer at the Standards Board for England.

Anston Parish Council would be asked to cover the £8,000 costs from its budget, which is funded by the taxpayer through a council tax precept.

The second option, as a last result, would be to abolish the parish council or merge it with another.

The committee also heard a report about Coun Thornton’s misconduct. The report noted that he had been charged with assault and appeared at Rotherham Magistrates’ Court on 29th October 2013. He was bound over to keep the peace at the sum of £50 for six months.

Coun Thorton said: “There was no assault. I acted in self-defence at all times.”