Another correspondent on: just how “thin skinned” is Mark Williams when dealing with members of the public?

This correspondent writes:

This long in the tooth Budleigh Salterton resident remembers being horrified when I read a letter in the Exmouth Journal in November 2009 at the time of the Longboat saga. This included a paragraph referring to a letter received recently by the author from Mr. Williams:

Mr Williams wrote “I am mindful that in the 9 years I have been employed by the Council I have seen/read considerable correspondence from you (whether it be to the Council or the local press).  You will perhaps forgive me for commenting that I cannot recall a single occasion when you have said anything positive about the Council or its planning process and as a result I have read your comments with this background in mind. It might be that I am mistaken in my recollection but I believe it is important that I inform you of this perspective.” Big Brother is watching!  

I think a letter published the following week from a former senior civil servant summed up what was thought by many at the time:

“Having spent 40 years of my career in public service, most of the time in Whitehall where Ministers and officials receive their share of critical letters from the electorate, in my experience we would never have dreamt of replying to a member of the public in such a way, indeed it would not have been allowed.  Our creed was, accurate always, robust as necessary, but never, never rude or insulting.  Mr Williams should be formally disciplined for his behaviour. 

Public servants either elected or serving officers must always remember that it is the electorate who put them there, and in the case of officials, who pay their salaries.  To forget this is a road I never want to go down – as [name redacted] says, Big Brother – not for me, thank you.”

3 thoughts on “Another correspondent on: just how “thin skinned” is Mark Williams when dealing with members of the public?

  1. Macchiavelli’s advice is that the first thing the new controlling group should have done on taking over was to get rid of Mark Williams. 

    Summary execution was cleaner and faster in 15th century Italy than the legal procedures now required, but I hope the CEO’s attempt at judicial bullying will prove a Pyrrhic victory. Bringing the office of Councillor into disrepute when in opposition was naughty but Millar has survived this attempt to destroy him. Triumphantly, He is not the kind of guy to give up, especially when he has allies such as the massed democratic forces of East Devon’s genuine Independents (who, as Sasha Swire has confirmed, massively outnumber the demoralised Tory ancien regime.)

    Williams prefers to seek legal advice on tricky issues from himself – as you may remember from when he smugly told the council that they get “two for the price of one” after he was challenged in the Chamber to reveal the source of the “independent legal advice” he had received to support his dubious decision to forbid his staff to come before the Scrutiny Committee to answer questions about the EDBF and the Brown envelope scandal. Williams may need more robust legal advice if he wishes to retain his highly remunerative post as a public servant.

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  2. Complaints against Mark Williams have a long history.
    For example, the blog Sidmouth Independent News (SIN!), which is still archived on line, reported on an ‘explosive’ council meeting in March 2013 where I publicly accused Mr Williams of presiding over a district council coming to resemble a banana republic in planning matters, and, along with other members of the public, urged him to resign.
    The meeting took place after revelations in the Daily Telegraph that prominent East Devon councillor Graham Brown had been exposed as a ‘councillor for hire’ who offered to get planning permission for developers but wasn’t “doing it for peanuts”. For months before this scandal Mr Williams was repeatedly warned that Brown’s activities as chair of a lobby group for landowners and developers – the East Devon Business Forum- created a serious conflict of interest. Such concerns were dismissed out of hand, and until now there has never been an inquiry into the Brown affair.
    Anyone interested in what happened should google ‘Sidmouth Independent News’ and search “Mark Williams”. Then scroll down to 13 March 2013.

    Tony Green

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    • As I have commented elsewhere, Tony’s allegations above may be serious, but they pale into insignificance with at least two other allegations I have heard neither of which as far as I know were ever investigated by Devon & Cornwall Police.

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