Grangemouth councillor to be quizzed

Councillor Robert Spears
Councillor Robert Spears

The councillor rapped by local government watchdogs for making a “Sieg Heil” gesture at a meeting will have to explain his behaviour to Falkirk Council.

Grangemouth councillor Robert Spears was reported to the Standards Commission by Labour councillor Dennis Goldie at the end of a stormy public meeting of the full council in March last year.

He accused Mr Spears, part of the two-member Non-Aligned Independent Group on the council, of breaching the Councillor’s Code of Conduct by making a straight arm salute and saying ‘Seig Heil’ to Provost Pat Reid.

At the hearing in February the panel was told the Commissioner for Ethical Standards who investigated the complaint had concluded that “on a balance of probability” Mr Spears had made the gesture to Provost Reid and said the words.

The hearing heard that during the meeting a motion to suspend standing orders had been made and after the vote Mr Spears was seen by the clerk to the council and the Provost to make the straight arm salute and they both heard him say “Sieg Heil”.

The panel agreed Councillor Spears had been “disrespectful” and issued him with a censure, but stopped short of suspending him after accepting he had shown regret and noting he had since apologised to the Provost - twice.

Under the terms of the Ethical Standards In Public Life regulations the council was required to consider the Commission’s findings when it met on Wednesday.

Ahead of the debate, Councillor Craig Martin, leader of the Labour-led administration, told The Falkirk Herald that Councillor Spears, who was not at the meeting, will be expected to attend a meeting of the council to explain his actions.

Councillor Martin, who has had the chance to study the Commissioner’s findings in detail, said: “We will be moving the item on be continued to give Councillor Spears the opportunity to attend. It is important he be there because there are a number of serious questions arising from the Commissioners findings which need answers.”