Without going into the details of Mr Hellyers 'complaint' (I have read the story twice but don't fully understand what exactly Mr Parrott did except ignore Mr Hellier, making him even angrier than usual, which I'd have thought many people would applaud) the question that this story has raised once again is who are the 'Standards Board of England' and what are they for?
This from their website:
"The Standards Board for England provides an independent, national overview of how local authorities promote and improve the ethical behaviour of their members.
We assist local authorities in this work by providing support and guidance, as well as investigating cases which it is inappropriate for authorities to deal with themselves. We are a non-departmental public body, set up by an Act of Parliament."
Add to that another very active form of local scrutiny called 'the press' and the need to have an expensive, Government controlled network of enforcement of ethical behaviour seems both pointless and undemocratic.
If a councillor; or other elected representative such as a mayor really did behave in an unethical way then you would imagine that quite soon the political opposition would raise the issue in public and then, at some point, the voters would be able to judge whether this was what they want from their elected representatives and presumably they would chuck the offending councillor out; without any help from the 'Standards Board'.
Of course what the Standards Board is increasingly being used for is trivial complaints designed to cause political damage to the accused. Often (as in this case) the complaint is being made by someone who is not standing for election or elected and therefore is not themselves covered by any code of conduct whatsoever.
This is of course at the heart of the problem. Politics is by nature divisive and we have evolved a perfectly good system over hundreds of years for playing out these divisions in council chambers and Parliaments across the country guided by self-imposed Standing Orders; good manners, and open proceedings that the public and press can witness for themselves whenever they like. In a debating chamber both sides are signed up to the same rules of conduct and both are open to challenge and scrutiny - this is fair and proper.
In his efforts to claim foul Mr Hellyer has made the same mistake that the Kingskerswell Alliance did last year, he has exposed himself to criticism of Hypocricy. Mr Hellyer is entirely self-proclaimed; he has been elected by no-one and his potential conflicts of interest, political allegiences or other political activities are neither owned up to or able to be scrutinised.
Mr Parrott, unlike Mr Helllyer, has an electorate to answer to and it is they who rightly guide his actions, not some Government appointed quango costing taxpayers many hundreds of millions of pounds.
As it happens since both Mr Hellyer and Mr Parrott go to great lengths to deny any connection to any political party I feel able to judge the affair totally dispassionately.
Game set and match to Mr Parrott.