UKIP councillor cleared after Conservative’s complaint she was branded abusive term

Gina Scotting - a Lancing parish councillor
Gina Scotting - a Lancing parish councillor

A parish councillor who called a district councillor an abusive term will face no action after a complaint over her conduct was dismissed.

Conservative Ann Bridges complained after her abstention in a vote over the Adur Local Plan prompted UKIP’s Gina Scotting to call her an ‘evil b***h’ during a break in proceedings.

Ann Bridges

Ann Bridges

But Adur District Council’s solicitor has ruled Mrs Scotting did not break Lancing Parish Council’s code of conduct as she was attending the meeting in her capacity as a resident.

The parish councillor was, however, encouraged to ‘maintain the highest standards of behaviour’ regardless of whether she was subject to the code.

The ruling, forwarded to the Herald by Mrs Scotting, said: “Being an elected member of Lancing Parish Council and working in public life means that you should uphold the highest standards of conduct and behaviour at all times and follow the Nolan Principles in all aspects of your life.

“However, in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, you are only bound by the provisions of the code of conduct when you are acting in your capacity as a parish councillor or holding yourself out as doing so.

“I have therefore rejected Ann Bridges’ complaint that you breached the code of conduct on the basis that you were not bound by its provisions at the time.

“I would however urge you please to reflect upon the alleged conduct and encourage you to maintain the highest standards of behaviour appropriate to somebody in public life, at all times regardless of the provisions of the code.”

Mrs Scotting faced calls to resign after her remark, which she admitted saying during an interview with the Herald in December. Click here for the full story.

She refused to apologise, arguing Mrs Bridges ‘let down’ residents by failing to take a stance on the controversial plan, which earmarks Lancing’s New Monks Farm for potential development.

Mrs Bridges this week revealed why she chose to abstain in the vote, which saw the local plan adopted by full council.

She said: “On the night of the council meeting, I felt that I could not vote for the local plan as I was against the development of New Monks Farm.

“However, I could not vote against the local plan as it protects the land in Widewater, so I abstained from the vote.”

The local plan sets out a vision to build at least 3,718 homes up until 2032, with Shoreham Harbour, New Monks Farm and land west of Sompting three areas earmarked for major housing projects. The plan was approved following a series of public hearings before a government inspector last year. It saw developers unsuccessfully argue several parcels of land between Lancing and Shoreham should be included in the plan – despite Adur District Council’s belief they were not suitable.