DUDLEY Council’s leader has said he will not be silenced after he was taken to the standards committee for comments he made about the borough’s police chief amid a row over travellers who had outstayed their welcome at the council’s transit site.

Councillor Patrick Harley said he had lost confidence in Chief Supt Kim Madill’s ability to support the local authority on issues relating to travellers after the borough’s commander issued a lengthy email statement to the public stating that efforts to recognise diversity, treat people with dignity and respect and to show care and compassion had played into her decision not to evict the group when called upon by the council.

Stourbridge News: Chief Supt Kim Madill, left, Cllr Patrick Harley - leader of Dudley Council - right.Chief Supt Kim Madill, left, Cllr Patrick Harley - leader of Dudley Council - right.

Cllr Harley was livid at the lack of support and he spoke out in the press about the matter.

However, a complaint was submitted to Dudley Council by Jonathan Jardine, chief executive of the Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, suggesting he had breached the elected members’ code of conduct and a hearing took place on Monday (June 20).

Cllr Harley was found to have breached part of the members’ code that calls upon elected officials to be courteous and respectful to others, but further accusations of breaches, including that he ought to have sought support before speaking with the press, were not upheld.

He said after the hearing: “I think it was a total waste of taxpayers’ money. It was politically motivated, it’s also absolute nonsense. It’s clear an agreed protocol wasn’t adhered to for a reason that none of us can explain or understand.”

Cllr Harley told the News he felt Chief Supt Madill should have stuck to the protocol agreed by the council and the police in relation to the transit site at Coseley, which was set up to deter travellers from hanging around in the borough, and he dubbed Monday’s five-hour hearing “a waste of everybody’s day”. He added: "It’s achieved nothing.”

He said he felt he was right to speak up about the situation and “take a stand against people in positions of responsibility who want to stifle debates and democracy” and he added: “I will not be silenced from speaking up for the residents of this borough. It’s my right to speak up on issues like this.”

A spokesperson for the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "Dudley Council's independent investigation found that Cllr Harley's remarks were 'disrespectful, unwarranted and inappropriate' and the council's standards committee has concluded that his accusations breached the council's code of conduct. We welcome this finding.

“It is to be hoped that Cllr Harley will carefully reflect on this outcome, pause, and think twice, before again groundlessly questioning the integrity and professionalism of a serving officer.”

Mohammed Farooq, Dudley Council’s monitoring officer, said a letter would be sent from the chairperson of the Audit and Standards Committee to Cllr Harley stating that he had already attended a training session focussing on the members’ code of conduct.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Ryan Priest called on Cllr Harley to resign from his role as leader after hearing the long-serving local politician, who represents Kingswinford North and Wall Heath, was being hauled before the standards committee.

In a statement, he hit out over a trip taken by senior council officials to the South of France to lobby for investments for Dudley and he compared Cllr Harley to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying: “Much like the PM, it's time for him to go.”