A north-east councillor has escaped punishment after alleging that planning officers were guilty of spreading “outright lies and twisted truths”.
SNP councillor for Aberdeenshire’s Troup ward Hamish Partridge was accused of contravening the councillor’s code of conduct by showing disrespect and a lack of trust towards council officers.
Mr Partridge’s comment surfaced in an e-mail sent to councillors, officers, a member of the public and the local MP Eilidh Whiteford and MSP Stewart Stevenson on May 21 this year.
It related to a decision made by the planning team at Woodhill House to grant permission for a new garage in the village of Rosehearty.
Mr Partridge had raised concerns about the application on behalf of a constituent but, despite his objection, the permission was granted by officers on March 20.
In the e-mail sent by Mr Partridge in the aftermath, the councillor expressed concerns about the actions of officers and other councillors in the way in which they had dealt with the case.
The message included allegations that “officers have stood there and told outright lies and twisted truths” and a reference to “councillors who clearly have no clue or respect for the residents lives that are affected by this ongoing serious issue”.
A complaint was subsequently made to the standards commission by then council leader Mr Gifford.
However, despite deeming that the disrespectful comments were made “publicly”, the commission looked at the message in the context of the case.
A separate investigation by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman found the council had not handled the planning process properly.
Concluding the case, Public Standards Commissioner Bill Thomson said: “Having considered the information that arose from my investigation, I concluded that, councillor Hamish Partridge had not contravened the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.”
Last night Mr Partridge said he had been “frustrated” about the handling of the initial planning application.
He added: “I certainly welcome the commissioners findings and I will continue to work with the council and my constituents to find a solution to the whole issue.”