Gordon McCann – a fine example of a Wyre Councillor

.. or not perhaps.

We are very used to hearing that councillors can’t attend open meetings for fear of being seen to be prejudiced and barred from voting on any issues. Normally we see this as being a technical and unnecessary restriction which stops elected representatives from getting properly informed (or in certain case provides them with a handy excuse for not attending).

It was with some surprise therefore that we watched the video of a discussion at Shale Gas World UK 2013 here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=g7tTjdra7wE#at=56

{this video has now been made private so you can’t see it. We do have a copy if anyone needs it for legal purposes}

In this film we see two councillors – one from Frodsham in Cheshire and one from Wyre (coincidentally both Conservatives) advising fracking companies how best to get under the skin of their communities, in one case by suggesting that they infiltrate schools and let the children carry the propaganda home to their parents – yes really – listen to it! You too can shiver with revulsion.

Then at 34:00 in to the video Cllr Gordon McCann, Economic Portfolio holder for Wyre Council, suggested that that RAFF and Frack Off had broken into the Royal Bank of Scotland in London!

After this comment was reported to Wyre council it wasn’t long before a grovelling public apology was posted on the YouTube page where the video is hosted.

Wyre Council : Councillor Gordon McCann has asked that we post this message directly to you on his behalf:

“I would like to fully retract and unreservedly apologise for the comments I made towards the end of the Shale Gas World UK debate in June. The comments I made about Residents Action on Fylde Fracking and Frack Off that they were involved with the break in of the Royal Bank of Scotland and reclaiming the streets of London were wrong and unfounded.

I am deeply sorry for any offence this may have caused to anyone associated with either group and ask that they accept my unreserved apology”

This was later accompanied by the assurance from Wyre Council that

“in view of the fact that he made the comments, in any debate about fracking where a decision is to be made, he will declare an interest and take no part in the decision making process.”

This is interesting as under Wyre Council’s code of conduct the declaration of an non-pecuniary interest is only required

“Where you are present at a meeting of the authority, (including any committee, sub-committee, joint committee or joint sub-committee of the authority or an executive member discharging a function alone) and you have an interest either described in Appendix B or any other significant interest(3) which you feel should be declared in the public interest, such interests must be declared to the meeting”

Note 3 says

“A significant interest might include one where you anticipate that a decision might reasonably be deemed to benefit or disadvantage yourself, a member of your family or a person with whom you have a close association to a greater extent than other Council constituents and that interest is not a disclosable pecuniary interest.”

Appendix B describes three other types of non-pecuniary interests

Details of any body of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management and to which you are appointed or nominated by your authority;

Details of anybody exercising functions of a public nature, any body directed to charitable purposes or any body one of whose principal purposes includes the influence of public opinion or policy (including any political party or trade union), of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management.

Details of any gift or hospitality with an estimated value of at least £50 that you have received in connection with your role as a member of the Council, and details of the donor.Details of any body of which you are a member or in a position of general control or management and to which you are appointed or nominated by your authority;

All this prompts the question, what interests does this councillor have to declare, and if he has any why were they not declared before!

It looks to us as though the comments made by Cllr McCann were undoubtedly libellous and we hope for his sake that both RAFF and Frack Off are feeling charitable or he may yet get to hear from m’learned friends. RAFF are a very reasonable bunch of people, but Frack Off are maybe a little bit more ferocious 🙂

With such a huge question mark over his judgement we are surprised that Wyre council appear to be rejecting suggestions that his conduct should be referred to the standards committee. In our judgement he has certainly brought his council into disrepute by the comments he made in his capacity as a councillor. A referral to the standards committee would seem to us to be only right and proper – assuming that is that Cllr McCann doesn’t do the decent thing and resign now of course.

Of course the question as to whether anti-fracking groups are really just bussed in bunches of anarchist activists with a penchant for criminal activity is an interesting one isn’t it? Ken Cronin of UKOOG said “We’re pretty sure from our own experiences that quite a few of those people with placards won’t be local people” – this is then embellished by the bumbling oratory of Cllr McCann into the Raffgate incident.

I think this reaction from Facebook to Cllr McCann’s accusation sums up the situation quite nicely

“He’s trying to say that we are the same type of people who engage in violent and illegal protests elsewhere. That there are serial protesters who jump on any anti-government or anti-“progress” bandwagon. Trying to tar us with the same brush basically.
If the people attending the Jessica Ernst meeting are broadly representative of RAFF I think we’d all much prefer a nice cup of tea & a sit down to rampaging around the streets setting things on fire!”

We think that commentator is spot on! Of course if our local councillors actually attended any public meetings that we hold they’d know that and wouldn’t go risking their political careers by making silly accusations.

How many sugars do you take?

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