Councillor sleeping probe still not resolved – five months on

Coun Derek Forrest
Coun Derek Forrest

A complaint lodged against a Leyland councillor accused of falling asleep during a meeting has still not been resolved – FIVE months after the alleged offence.

A councillor put forward an official complaint in November about Coun Derek Forrest, who sits on South Ribble Council’s planning committee, claiming he was snoozing during a meeting about the Cuerden Strategic Site.

“In terms of the standards applied to councillors, they are toothless tigers”

Coun Derek Forrest

The council has confirmed that there has been ‘no further update’ from the monitoring officer, and the chairman of the standards committee told the Guardian the issue hadn’t been raised with him.

Coun Forrest, who denies the allegation, says he “isn’t losing any sleep over it”, but said that matters like this used to be taken much more seriously at South Ribble.

“I’m quite indifferent about it to it to be honest,” he said. “But I suppose it does point really to the fact that in terms of the standards applied to councillors, they are toothless tigers.

“In the old days, we would have councillors having to defend themselves quite vigorously in public hearings, and that just hasn’t happened here.

“People used to complain about each other every week, it was part and parcel of being on the council, and the standards committee was something to be concerned about.

“It’s nowhere near as strict as it used to be.

“I hasten to say that I’ve not seen any obvious decline in standards at South Ribble - we have a bunch of upstanding, law-abiding councillors.”

Coun Warren Bennett, who made the complaint, did not want to comment on the fact that the issue has still not been resolved.

In November, he told the Guardian: “The least you can do when you’re representing residents is to stay awake.

“It was during an important meeting about the council’s strategic plan, and it’s wholly unacceptable.”