Two councillors have been told off by the body that enforces standards in public office in Herefordshire.

County councillor William Wilding, who represents Penyard ward for the Independents for Herefordshire, was reprimanded by Herefordshire Council’s monitoring officer for remarks he made at a planning committee meeting in May which was broadcast on the council’s YouTube channel.

He had said of planning agent James Spreckley’s claims regarding a small rural housing development that “to pretend that building a couple of houses is going to soften the transition between human activity and nature is bit like Vladimir Putin saying he is eradicating the Nazis from wherever he’s going”.

Committee chair Coun Terry James told Coun Wilding to “please keep to planning policy”, to which Coun Wilder responded: “I refuse to do that, chair, because the (planning) policies were made up before we realised how bad the situation was ecologically.”

Mr Spreckley then made a formal complaint, calling for the YouTube recording to be permanently redacted and demanding Coun Wilding apologise in writing and in person, make a further apology to the committee, and withdraw his comments from the meeting minutes.

He also asked for “consideration of Coun Wilding’s fitness for office in general, and fitness to sit on Planning Committee in particular, given his assertion that he will not limit his comments to planning matters and policy”.


The monitoring officer has now ruled that Coun Wilding's remarks amounted to a breach of the Herefordshire Council code of conduct.

“It has been concluded that Coun Wilding did not uphold the high standards required of him at the meeting,” the monitoring officer said, and instructed Coun Wilding to apologise in writing to Mr Spreckley for his comments.

The recording of the meeting has been removed from the council’s YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, Coun Ewen Sinclair, Conservative councillor on Ledbury Town Council, was alleged to have “mocked the use of the gender pronouns” in the email footer of a Herefordshire Council officer, in an email he sent to all fellow town councillors, though not to the officer concerned.

In the email, Coun Sinclair “goes on to state that he cannot take the subject matter of the email seriously because of the footer used by the Herefordshire Council officer”, the monitoring officer’s decision said.

“The email sent by Coun Sinclair is considered to have breached the Ledbury Town Council code of conduct, and I would advise that he attends the next code of conduct training arranged by the town clerk,” it ruled.

The decision published by the monitoring officer did not identify the complainant in this case.

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