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Investigation at Stanley Town Council
A TOWN council clerk has been suspended on full pay pending the outcome of an inquiry.
An investigation was launched into the running of Stanley Town Council after members raised concerns about the way it is being operated.
Clerk Russell Morgan is awaiting the outcome of the probe by the North-East Regional Employers Association.
The Northern Echo understands the inquiry began after a row between councillors and Mr Morgan over the way the business of the authority is handled.
Derek Shingleton, acting town clerk, said: “Russell Morgan was suspended on full pay in late June 2013, but I am unable to comment on the reason for the suspension or the nature of the investigation while it is ongoing.
“The investigation, which is being carried out by an officer appointed by the North-East Regional Employers Association (NEREO) is virtually complete.”
Last month, Councillor Peter McLaughlin stood down as chairman of the council after appearing in court charged with the historic sexual abuse of a teenage boy.
He faces five counts of indecent assault alleged to have taken place in Carlisle between 1990 and 1994 and has been replaced as chairman by Councillor David Mills.
Mr McLaughlin, 61, of Stanley, has appeared at Carlisle Crown Court and is due to attend a plea and direction hearing in October ahead of a trial, which has been scheduled for December.
Mr McLaughlin has resigned from the Labour Party, but remains a town councillor.
Mr Shingleton said: “There are no reasons why he should not remain as a councillor at present, innocent until proven guilty.
“However, Section 80 of the Local Government Act 1972 states that any councillor is disqualified from holding office if he/she is found guilty of any offence for which the sentence is at least three months imprisonment without the option of a fine.”
Earlier this year the council came under fire from Durham MP Kevan Jones, who campaigned to have the council set up, amid accusations of wasting public money and behind closed doors decision making.
The council, which was controversially formed five years ago, angered members of the public by excluding them from meetings before issues were discussed.
Mr Morgan could not be contacted for comment.
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