A COMMITTEE set up to ensure councillors adhere by a code of conduct closed its doors to discuss whether disciplinary action should be taken against a member of the authority.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's newly-established standards committee wants to be "whiter than white" when it comes to the behaviour of members elected to serve their communities.

But at a meeting on Monday, councillors ruled discussions about individual councillors who may be facing disciplinary measures should be discussed behind closed doors - and the public would only be informed if action was taken.

They put their decision into practice by discussing possible action against Councillor Ken Seymour in private.

Last week, Coun Seymour, elected to serve the St Germain's ward, was evicted from his council house for non payment of rent. The committee backed the decision with the exception of east Cleveland independent councillor Dave Fitzpatrick.

He said: "Justice has to be seen to be done and we did make a basic principle that we have to be seen to be whiter than white. And it puts this in danger by excluding people."

But Councillor Eric Empson said disciplinary matters were bound by confidentiality rules. He said: "We have gone along with Government guidelines and if we invite people along to disciplinary matters it totally defeats the object."

The committee also met to discuss a code of conduct for councillors which includes a dress code - stating they must be clean, neat and tidy. They must also address each other by their surname and title while at meetings.