Published 8th January 2015
Cllr J. Vincent Waters
Vincent Waters has been accused by a very experienced and dedicated community councillor of over 20 years public service, of bullying and victimising Thornliebank Community Council for several months.
In addition Vincent’s partner Lisa Paton has been accused of interfering with Thornliebank Community Council and attempting to have them breach the community council’s constitution.
This all came to a head on Tuesday evening (6/1/15) at Thorntree Hall, Thornliebank.
Vincent Waters and Lisa Paton
Vincent Waters is one of three elected members who represent Thornliebank and Giffnock. He can therefore attend community council meetings as an Ex Officio member, (GCC and TCC).
There would appear to be a number of questions surrounding Vincent's interaction with TCC where it is alleged that he has attempted to bully the community councillors and influence their decisions, which are wholly out with his remit as an ex officio member.
(An ex officio member is exactly the same as a member of the public, a visitor with no right to speak unless invited by the chair to do so, and has no voting rights)
A community council meeting is a meeting of community councillors, for the benefit of community councillors, elected members are expected to attend and hear and listen tom the views of the public as narrated by the Ccllrs .
Vincent had a member of Council staff prepare and type this letter which was emailed out at 5pm on Tuesday to all TCC Cllrs, when Vincent would have been well aware that the meeting was being held at 7.15pm that evening.
How many Ccllrs would have read their e mail at that late stage.
However one Ccllr (Not the secretary) was strangely in a position to be in attendance with 10 copies of the letter for all present at 7.15pm.
One minute at the meeting for the Ccllrs to digest the content of this rather aggressive and threatening letter, with many details and accusations, and then to discuss same?
However Vincent was strangely absent, he was observed standing outside the venue at 7.10pm and observed leaving arm in arm with his partner at 9.30pm at the conclusion of the meeting, but he failed to attend the CC meeting.
Despite Vincent being previously advised that this particular Community Council wished the constitution to be complied with in respect of correspondence being sent only to the secretary, Vincent yet again disobeyed their instructions and sent this to every member and not through the secretary.
At the meeting a long standing and very respected member of the community council said "I think the problem is clear that Vincent Waters has been bullying this community council for a number of months and this is part of his bullying campaign.
What was it that Vincent wanted to allegedly Suppress in these minutes, and why, and what about Lisa's involvement ...More follows.......
WITH regards to Vincent complaining that he wanted to use his i pad at GCC meetings, contrary to the instructions of the chair, the minute secretary read an extract from the minutes of Giffnock Community Council's meeting of April 2014.
It was highlighted that Vincent was present when the statement was read out and made no objection, yet he happy to comply with the GCC ruling, but not the same ruling at TCC, which was described as discriminating against TCC.
Discussion ensued regarding the use of i pads at CC meetings and the chair of a neighbouring CC who was in attendance was asked if his CC had a policy regarding the use of electronic equipment.
The chair stated that his CC does not permit the use of electronic equipment and went on to list the reasons.
Not only are these devices able to access the internet, they are video cameras, still cameras, voice recorders and have the capability of sending text messages, which could be sent to another person at the meeting and they could between them place undue influence on the CC by colluding etc.
In addition he personally found someone using a device during a meeting to be a massive distraction.
What must also come into focus is that an elected member playing with an i pad is not concentrating on what is being said by Cclrs, and that is the reason / purpose for their attendance.
We would suggest that to do so is disrespectful to the Community Council and to refuse to comply with a chairs ruling could be construed as a Breach of the Councillors Code of Conduct.
In Vincents letter he says.
East Renfrewshire Councils Scheme for Community Councils states:-
21. The Chairperson shall rule on all matters of order, relevancy and competency arising at meetings of the community council.
The Chairperson has the most important single role to play in ensuring that community council meetings run smoothly.
The Chairperson’s job is to preside over all meetings of the community council.
In practice, this usually means that the Chairperson will have to make judgements about how much time to allocate to each Agenda item. It also means that he or she may occasionally have to bring speakers back to the Agenda and generally encourage people to make their contributions brief and to the point.
All speakers will be expected to address their comments to the Chair: this helps the Chairperson to keep control of the discussion.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the Chairperson is expected to know the rules by which the community council functions, and ensure that in all stages of its work, the community council is operating in accordance with procedures. In this context the Chairperson may be called upon to act as an arbiter when there is a disagreement about how the rules should be interpreted.
It would appear to us that Vincent has invented the words 'Valid' and 'Legal' as these do not appear in the Scheme for CC's.
Surely if a chair states that she finds the use of an i pad a distraction and request's the user to put it away, that is a valid instruction and must be complied with, especially if the person concerned is an ex - officio member ie. a visitor.
No i pads of mobile telephones are permitted or used within the Council Chamber by Councillors at Eastwood Park.
The Councillors Code of Conduct states :-
You must respect all other councillors and all Council employees and the role they play, treating them with courtesy at all times. Similarly you must respect members of the public when performing duties as a Councillor.
2.2 You should apply the principles of this Code to Conduct at Meetings
3.2 You must respect the chair, your colleagues, Council employees and any members of the public present during meetings of the Council, its Committees or Sub-Committees or of any Public Bodies where you have been appointed by, and represent the Council. You must comply with rulings from the chair in the conduct of the business of these meetings.
Not a single councillor has been issued with an i pad by East Renfrewhire Council, so this piece of kit is a personal toy of Vincent's.
NEWSLINE understands that the minute taker has stood by his minutes, in his opinion they are a true record of the meeting and he has no intention of removing anything.
In addition Vincent in his letter wishes approved and published minutes which relate to November removed from the council web site and altered.
He was at the December meeting when these minutes were discussed and approved, he made no objection at that time, why is he now wishing something altered.
This is not the first time that Vincent has attempted to interfere with the conduct of the Thornliebank CC meeting, we will cover these later.
Meanwhile we will move on to cover Lisa Paton's involvement over the same minutes.