A COUNCILLOR has been reported to the standards department for allegedly drinking alcohol during a meeting.
Cllr Brian Cutts insists it was a non-alcoholic fruit drink \_ not wine \_ and says he will take a couple of glasses along if the matter goes to a hearing.
RMBC’s standards and ethics department received an anonymous complaint about Cllr Cutts following the virtual meeting in early March.
The complainant said: “Mr Cutts was holding a wine glass up to his camera and drinking from it. This looked to be red wine.
“The nature of his behaviour towards other councillors and the mayor, the chair, suggested he was intoxicated.
“This behaviour is unacceptable by someone of his position and meant to be representing Rotherham Council and his ward.”
After an exchange over building on agricultural land, the chairman and mayor, Cllr Jenny Andrews told Cllr Cutts during the meeting: “I’m asking you to show more respect for the chair.”
Cllr Cutts has been asked for his comments in response to the alcohol complaint, with a deadline of Monday, before a decision will be taken on how the matter might be pursued.
He said: “If it goes to the board, then I will take two glasses along. I want to show them it wasn’t wine.
“The point is that it’s a fruit drink, non-alcoholic. I’ll take along two glasses... The other one is for whoever the ‘whistleblower’ was.
“I have acknowledged receipt of the complaint and I look forward to getting my points across.”
Cllr Allen Cowles, leader of Rotherham Democratic Party, said he felt it highly unlikely that Cllr Cutts would be required to appear before the standards board for such a trivial matter \_ regardless of the election outcome.
RMBC assistant chief executive Jo Brown said: “Members are provided with general etiquette guidance, which extends the expected standards of the council chamber to wherever the member might be joining from virtually.
“The guidance asks that members consider how their appearance, actions, and general engagement with a virtual meeting might be perceived by those watching proceedings.
“Members also have a duty to observe all matters associated with their code of conduct.
“An anonymous complaint has been received about a councillor apparently drinking red wine during a meeting; the councillor involved has explained this was non-alcoholic. As the complainant wishes to remain anonymous, this will be dealt with informally.”
Cllr Cutts previously found himself in trouble with the standards board after comments about same-sex adoption at a private council seminar in 2018.