A COUNCIL watchdog has delivered its verdict on the conduct of two Frankston councillors at a public event at The Deck bar late last year.
Deputy mayor Cr Colin Hampton and Cr Darrel Taylor faced a Municipal Association of Victoria facilitated councillor conduct panel hearing in May to answer accusations of misbehaviour at a marketing campaign launch by developer Peninsula Blue Developments to sell 91 apartments at the planned $80 million Allure Bayside building in Davey St.
The Times understands the panel found Cr Hampton breached code of conduct clauses in the Local Government Act over the way he spoke to council staff in public at the December function.
The panel is believed to have dismissed allegations that Cr Taylor contradicted official council policy when speaking at the event about the benefits of apartment projects in central Frankston.
Allegations of derogatory remarks made by Cr Hampton about and to Cr Taylor at the same event were not proven, according to the panel.
Witnesses claimed Cr Hampton became angry and aggressive when Cr Taylor took to the stage at The Deck after mayor Cr James Dooley had addressed the bar crowd as official council spokesman.
Cr Hampton was heard by attendees angrily seeking an explanation for Cr Taylor’s public address from council officers and council CEO Dennis Hovenden in the bar immediately after Cr Taylor’s speech.
Mr Hovenden and Cr Dooley are understood to have given evidence at the May panel hearing into both councillors’ conduct. The hearing before the two-person panel was held at Frankston Civic Centre.
The panel’s verdict has been handed to Frankston Council to possibly be tabled at an upcoming public council meeting.
When contacted by The Times Cr Taylor, the election campaign manager for Liberal candidate for Dunkley Chris Crewther, said he could not discuss the hearing outcome unless the panel report is tabled at council.
“Myself and my family have been subject to a disgusting smear campaign ever since I decided to stand up against improper behaviour in council,” Cr Taylor said.
“This smear campaign has come from other councillors as well as the Labor Party.
“Regardless of this disgusting smear campaign I will always stand up for proper behaviour from within council as this behaviour reflects badly on council and on our city.”
Council has previously refused to even confirm a panel hearing took place when asked by The Times and ignored a question asking whether the panel’s report and decision would be publicly released despite the hearing possibly costing ratepayers about $15,000.
Cr Hampton, a long-time Labor Party member, said Local Government Act restrictions prevented him talking about the panel hearing but he made it clear he wants the panel’s report to be made public.