A second Fife Tory councillor in the space of less than a month is facing sanctions or possible suspension after being accused of breaking the rules.
Councillor Andy Heer, the Conservative member for Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, has been summoned to a Standards Commission hearing into allegations he breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct by disclosing confidential information on social media earlier this year.
Mr Heer stands accused of contravening paragraph 3.19 of the Code, which states councillors who are appointed to partner organisations should comply with that organisation’s rules of conduct.
After being appointed by Fife Council to the board of the local authority’s arm’s length organisation Fife Resource Solutions (FRS), Mr Heer was reported to the Standards Commission after posting a message on Facebook which, it is claimed, divulged confidential information discussed at a special meeting of FRS on May 20.
Mr Heer’s case is due to be heard on December 16 and a panel will decide whether his actions constituted a breach and if punishment should apply.
News of another Fife councillor’s appearance before the Standards Commission is understood to have prompted a strong rebuke from local government officials who have been forced to remind elected members of their roles and responsibilities.
Earlier this week it emerged Cupar Conservative councillor Tony Miklinski has been suspended for two full council meetings after engaging in behaviour that “amounted to harassment” towards the owners of wedding venue Carphin House in a planning row.
A hearing panel concluded his behaviour had not been appropriate and had not shown the couple involved due respect, although Gary McIlravey, who represented Mr Miklinski at the hearing, said he may have become too personally invested in the matter and was a “relatively inexperienced” councillor, having only been elected in 2017.
At the start of November, Labour St Andrews Councillor Brian Thomson was censured by the Standards Commission for failing to declare his non-financial interest as a council-appointed member of the St Andrews Links Management Committee in a matter being considered at a special meeting of the North East Fife area committee on January 23, 2019.
Fellow Labour councillor Linda Erskine also faced a Standards Commission hearing in August in respect of an allegation she had failed to declare an interest when a council committee approved changes to the Benarty and Lochgelly Community Council boundary at a meeting on February 14, 2019.
However, she was cleared of breaching the Code of Conduct following an investigation.
Mr Heer declined to comment on the complaint itself but said the whole process seems “very cumbersome and overly complicated”.
And he added: “It’s also very unfair in as much as the Ethical Standards Commissioner is using a tax-payer funded QC to prosecute me whereas I have no legal representation.”