Horncastle Town Councillor says he’s a victim of false allegations

Councillor Richard Barker who says there are no investigations into his behaviour
Councillor Richard Barker who says there are no investigations into his behaviour

A Horncastle town councillor says he has been ‘totally cleared’ of allegations that Lincolnshire County Council is investigating complaints about his behaviour.

Councillor Richard Barker has been involved in a lengthy row with fellow town and county councillor Bill Aron over the state of local highways.

The town council has set up a Highways Working Group - which Coun Barker is a member of - in a bid to solve a number of concerns.

As a county councillor, Coun Aron’s responsibilities include highways.

Coun Aron has, to date, refused to meet the working group who have finalised a list of issues they want to discuss with him and highways officers.

In a verbal spat between Coun Barker and Coun Aron at last month’s town council meeting, Coun Aron said he was not communicating with the group because Coun Barker was at the centre of complaints by officers and staff at LCC.

Now, Coun Barker has sent the News an email from LCC which states: “Having checked our system, I can see no evidence that there is a complaint against you.

“Please note that any individual who wished to make a complaint about yourself, in your role as town councillor, would not be able to raise this with the County Council as you are not a councillor for the county.

“I hope that this clarifies the position.”

Coun Barker also sent the News an email from East Lindsey District Council’s Monitoring Officer John Armstrong who confirms no complaints have been made .

Coun Barker accepts he has regularly contacted both authorities about a number of issues, many of which, he says, remain unsolved.

He maintains he has always ‘acted in the best interests of the town council’ and reported issues as an ‘elected representative’ after often being approached for help by dissatisfied residents.

Coun Barker says he has a list of highways issues that have not been resolved for ‘three years or longer.’

He added he has offered to meet Coun Aron to ‘thrash out’ any problems - but has not received a reply.

He was planning to raise the issue at this month’s town council meeting which was held on Tuesday night.

He said: “The council needs to address this, as the ‘complaints’ argument from Coun Aron is completely false, and is preventing proper dialogue to move the highway issues forward.”

Speaking before the meeting, Coun Barker added: “I trust (Coun Aron) you will be making your apology, not only to myself but to the Town Council.”

Mayor Coun Fiona Martin has urged Coun Barker and Coun Aron to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and move on. She refused a debate at last month’s meeting, saying it ‘would not do the town or the council any good.’

Response from Councillor Aron

“I understand LCC Highways have had to remind Coun Barker repeatedly how to report faults, and that it was unclear if he was acting on behalf of the Horncastle Town Council or just himself.

“I am receiving numerous e-mails from Coun Barker which are bordering on being libellous and are disparaging to say the least.”

Coun Aron also alleged that to the latter end of last year, Coun Barker became subject to LCC’s Corporate Complaints process over some issues – and alleged that some or all ‘may by now be cleared.’

Coun Aron continued: “I have informed Coun Barker on a number of occasions that I will forward his e-mails to the Complaints Team should he not have received the detailed answer he was looking for.”