AN angry dispute over a councillor’s conduct saw a town hall meeting cut short.

Wigan leader Cllr David Molyneux moved a vote to suspend proceedings as outspoken independent Cllr Bob Brierley shouted "you’re liars" and "I’ll see you in court".

Councillors had been discussing whether to approve a recommendation by the authority’s standards committee to strip Cllr Brierley of a committee place.

The Hindley Green representative was found to have been in breach of the members’ code of conduct in relation to "outrageous and false allegations" claiming a corrupt relationship between the town hall and a hotel firm.

Cllr Brierley shouts "I'll see you in court"

Legal officers – through Mayor Susan Greensmith – had told the chamber members could discuss whether the sanction should be approved, but not what happened at the hearing, which took place in November.

Cllr Brierley – who was not present at the standards hearing but has protested his innocence – had been warned about not going into details about the case.

The meeting was brought to an abrupt end amid raised voices in the chamber as members of the ruling Labour group backed Coun Molyneux’s move to suspend him.

Cllr Brierley said colleagues needed to "get the full facts" and called the actions of the council "a disgrace".

“I’ll see you in court. And all the rest of them, you’re liars,” he added.

The move to postpone the business of the meeting meant opposition motions relating to the borough’s HS2 route, calls for a new civic centre in Atherton and a request to form a cross-party group on mental health support were not heard.

Removing an elected members’ place on a town hall committee requires full council approval, the meeting had earlier been told.

The heated exchanges that followed represent the latest chapter of an ongoing dispute between Cllr Brierley, his supporters and the town hall.

He has been subject to several standards hearings in recent months but has maintained he is the victim of a "witch-hunt".

Fellow independent councillors had earlier questioned whether the council could impose sanctions on elected members and criticised the processes of the standards committee.

Cllr Steve Jones told the chamber the council cannot sanction elected members, only censure them, and he therefore would not be backing the recommendation.

He added if the result of the code of conduct hearing was taken to judicial review, the council would lose and cost taxpayers’ money.

Cllr Paul Maiden, who is a ward colleague of Cllr Brierley, compared the council’s process to "mob rule".

Meanwhile, Cllr Michael Winstanley, leader of the opposition, said his Conservative group was concerned with the length of the proposed sanction, which would prevent Cllr Brierley from being a member of a committee for the remainder of his term of office. 

“As it stands at the moment, there’s no incentive to improve the behaviour,” he added.

“We would have liked to see a more staggered approach, to see if there was some improvement and then bring it back to council.”

Before the first meeting of 2019 was brought to a premature end, chair of the standards committee, Cllr Charles Rigby, had outlined the important role it plays in promoting good behaviour.

But changes to the standards regime had made it difficult for town halls to deal with "repeat offenders".

The proposal to strip Cllr Brierley of his committee place "reflects the seriousness of the findings" from the hearing and will "hopefully encourage him to abide by the code of conduct", he added.