A REBEL councillor breached the city council's code of conduct when he called for the then chief executive to resign, a panel has ruled.

However, the majority of complaints relating to Winchester city councillor Kim Gottlieb actions after the initial Silver Hill scheme collapsed were not upheld by the authority's standards committee.

It comes after the former Conservative made the demand of then chief executive Simon Eden in 2015 in a statement made to the Chronicle's sister newspaper, the Daily Echo.

As previously reported, High Court judge Mrs Justice Lang ruled that Winchester City Council had acted unlawfully over its handling of the regeneration scheme following a legal challenge by Cllr Gottlieb (below).


Following that he said then leader Rob Humby, deputy leader Victoria Weston and the corporate director Steve Tilbury, as well as Mr Eden (pictured, below) should immediately leave the council.


The ruling said: "Issuing press statements imputing the conduct of individual officers by calling for their resignation was not ‘valuing your colleagues and officers and engaging with them in an appropriate manner’ because the officers were not able to respond publicly to criticism. Furthermore and for the same reason it constituted a failure to treat all people with respect and propriety."

Following the decision, Cllr Gottlieb said: "I am delighted that the standards committee cleared me on five of the six charges. All six charges related to statements I had made about the conduct of officers in relation to Silver Hill.

"A finding that the statement I made on the day that the Judicial Review Judgment was issued (February 11, 2015) was a breach is inconsistent with the committee’s other findings, and it fails to explain why my lawful right to freedom of speech did not apply."

Cllr Gottlieb also branded the investigation process as "perverse". He said: "The council has never formally apologised for its conduct, yet it has pursued me for trying to hold to account those I believed responsible for the council’s erroneous ways.

"I wouldn’t, however, criticise the standards committee as they were put in a very difficult position by the council which carried out what I believe was an inept and biased process. The fact that it has been dragged out for two-and-a-half years has been politically ‘convenient’ for those who have not appreciated my speaking out about Silver Hill over the years or, more recently, about other major projects including Station Approach and Bar End [sports and leisure centre].

"It would be a terrible thing if any other councillor felt unable to speak out about matters of public concern for fear of being complained about. Democracy, even at local level, faces too many threats as it is. The finding of a breach of the Code of Conduct is open to legal challenge, but the complaints process has already involved an obscene waste of public money (not counting my costs and my stress) and just now I’d rather focus on getting Silver Hill moving forwards in the right way."

Following the decision by the committee, Cllr Gottlieb has been told he must attend a training session on the code of conduct and member/officer relations by the end of February 2019.