A North council boss has been the subject of a complaint from a political rival amid accusations he issued “grossly misleading statements” over the cost of a meeting.
Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, has been reported to the authority’s standards committee by leader of the opposition Peter Jackson, after claiming an extraordinary meeting cost £80,000.
Coun Jackson believes his Mr Davey’s words brought his role and the council as a whole into disrepute.
However, Coun Davey’s group has hit back accusing the complainant of “playing politics” with public money at a time when the authority is facing massive spending cuts.
The complaint stems from the extraordinary meeting the Labour led council held in July, triggered by Coun Jackson’s Conservatives amid anger over the authority’s decision to introduce transport charges for students in post-16 education.
At the time, Coun Davey claimed the meeting would cost £80,000.
Figures seen by The Journal subsequently showed the meeting itself cost around £15,000 with the remainder covering consultation and meetings which would have gone ahead regardless.
Coun Jackson has now lodged the complaint, on behalf of the Conservative group.
He said: “We think that his behaviour in deliberately misleading the council and the general public is just one example of many of false statements that he has been making.
“As leader of the council he is actually in a position of public trust.
“Not only through this sort of behaviour is he bringing that position of leader of the council into disrepute but also it reflects on the whole of the council.
“We think there are strong grounds for bringing a formal complaint.
“It is with great regret. It is the last thing we want to do as an opposition group but when you lose trust in a democratically elected leader of the council, it is a very serious matter indeed.
“We want to make sure that this sort of willful abuse of this position does not happen again.”
A Labour group spokesperson said of the complaint: “We believe this is politically motivated and we’re concerned that local Conservatives are continuing to use the council to play politics which is not an effective use of public money at a time when residents face massive spending cuts imposed by a Conservative led government.”
A council spokeswoman said its monitoring officer had received the complaint.
She added: “An assessment decision is still awaited on the merit of the complaint which is not due until early next month.”