Monday, 7 January 2013

Another twist in the Ann Dale tale.Planning Committee chairman Coun Ian Hutchinson had to stand down after being found guilty by a standards panel of bullying Coun Dale during a committee meeting in June

'Bullied' Tory councillor to fight seat as Independent

  • by Paul Tully, The Journal

  • Jan 5 2013

Councillor Anne Dale and Councillor Ian Hutchinson (inset)

A LONG-STANDING Tory councillor has quit the party after a bullying row and will contest her seat as an Independent at the next election.

Anne Dale, who has represented Stocksfield and Broomhaugh ward in Tynedale for 18 years, left the Northumberland Conservative group after alleging she had been victimised by a senior colleague in a council chamber exchange.

Planning Committee chairman Coun Ian Hutchinson had to stand down after being found guilty by a standards panel of bullying Coun Dale during a committee meeting in June.

Coun Dale has now resigned from the Conservative party, and last night said: “I have quit the group and am hoping to stand as an Independent in the local elections in May. My honesty and integrity was at stake and I am not prepared to tolerate that for the sake of party politics. After serving for 18 years, I hope to continue doing so.”

Northumberland Conservative group leader Peter Jackson said there had been too many policy differences for Coun Dale to continue as a party member.

Coun Jackson said: “There are a series of policy differences going back three or four months. One was about saddling the new Prudhoe school building with a mountain of debt. She also refused to support our policies on control of wind farms, the Whittonstall opencast and our objection to it, plus free car parking before Christmas.”

But Coun Dale hit back: “There are no significant policy differences at all.

“There was one legal motion on wind farms that a lot of us didn’t vote on, but Peter Jackson has been singling me out.

“And on the issue of free computers at Prudhoe, I was not voting against that – I insist there were no significant policy differences.”

The split in the party has run for more than a year since it was announced that Coun Dale had been de-selected from the list of county election candidates.

Then in June she complained about Coun Hutchinson’s behaviour towards her during a planning committee meeting in Hexham.

Coun Dale took her case to the county council’s standards board and after a lengthy hearing, Coun Hutchinson, of Haltwhistle, was found guilty of bullying and apologised then stepped down as committee chairman to be replaced by Coun Edward Heslop of Wark.

Afterwards, Coun Dale resigned the party whip, though she is currently serving out her time on the authority.

Coun Jackson added: “She has kept on repeating that the group investigation into the bullying incident was not satisfactory, but that is wrong.

“The group did find that there had been a breach of the written code of conduct and Coun Hutchinson had to make a written apology. He then stood down as planning committee chairman.

“Most of the members of the group thought the matter had been handled satisfactorily – and that there should have been an end to it a long time ago. It doesn’t surprise us that Coun Dale has left the Tory group, because she effectively has not been a member of it for months now.”

Coun Dale’s place as a Conservative candidate in the May local election has been taken by Dr Paul Vickers of Stocksfield.

Coun Jackson said: “We are very excited that Paul Vickers is an excellent candidate who will bring a fresh view.”


Berwick Chamber of Trade back ‘fair parking in Northumberland’ petition. Shops in the town to collect signatures before 26 February 2013 deadline

Ian Swithenbank, Chairperson
Grant Davey, Leader
Val Tyler, Deputy
Robert Arckless, Secretary

County Hall
Northumberland NE61 2EF
Telephone (01670) 533000
Fax (01670) 533072

Press Release
Berwick Chamber of Trade back ‘fair parking in Northumberland’ petition
Shops in town to collect signatures before 26 Feb deadline
Berwick Chamber of Trade have become the first major Chamber of Trade in the county to back the petition to introduce a ‘fair parking system across Northumberland’ and have agreed to start collecting signatures in the shops of the town.
The petition closes on 26 Feb and will lead to a debate on car parking charges across Northumberland after closure at the council’s Petitions Committee chaired by Councillor Ian Swithenbank. It is hoped that the public campaign and renewed discussion about the issue of parking charges which Labour have branded ‘a parking stealth tax’ will send a strong message to the Liberal administration as it considers, what could be its final budget.  
Labour councillors have highlighted that the petition would be a ‘very visible way to send a message to County Hall’ about the current inequality which underpins parking charges across the county.
For instance, visitors to Morpeth, Berwick, Alnwick and Hexham have to pay parking charges while areas like Blyth, Cramlington and Ashington pay nothing. This raises between £1.96m and £5m in income from charges and fines but Labour disputes the figure. Labour also dispute reasons given by Lib Dem Cabinet member Andrew Tebbutt that ‘charges are needed to deal with congestion’ pointing out that there is no evidence that the council have undertaken any recent study into problems of congestion in Northumberland’s towns.  

Berwick Chamber of Trade’s John Haswell said

‘After printing out the petition form today, I have personally collected just over 280 names and signatures in one afternoon. It didn't take long and it wasn't hard to do, Berwick'sBerwick in these tough economic conditions. We will be making the petition available through the local traders and shops of the town so don't hold back, get in and sign it’.


Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘I hope the council will take notice of the campaign to highlight the damaging inequality in car parking charges across Northumberland’.