Holme Valley Parish Councillor Sanctioned Over Tweets

James Dalton dismissed the sanctions as “petty politicking” and an attempt at intimidation.

A councillor who received dozens of complaints over comments made on social media will have to delete offensive tweets – and attend diversity training.

Holme Valley Parish Council sanctioned James Dalton, who represents the Democrats and Veterans Direct Democracy Party (DVP), for what it described as “inappropriate actions”.

Mr Dalton, who lives in Honley near Huddersfield, must also issue a written public apology to the complainants acknowledging the impact of his
tweets as well as deleting the tweets concerned.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service Mr Dalton said he was aware of the parish council’s decision and that he would attend the next meeting to address matters on a face-to-face basis.

He dismissed the parish council’s sanctions as “petty politicking” and an attempt at intimidation.

He also confirmed that he was the subject of two police complaints and that he had been interviewed under caution by the police.

In a statement parish clerk Liz Bennett said sanctions against Mr Dalton were decided at an extraordinary council meeting on October 23.

Members also agreed to remove Mr Dalton from committees and working groups and to take away his official parish council email address with any future council-related matters sent by post.

Those sanctions will apply until May 2021.

Mr Dalton will be invited to attend the next full Holme Valley Parish Council meeting on November 18 “to answer for his actions” in relation to the complaints against him.

Mrs Bennett said: “Holme Valley Parish Council takes the nature of these complaints against Clr Dalton extremely seriously and these sanctions are the most severe available under current powers.

“We hope that the councillor will recognise the unacceptable nature of his recent communications and promptly address the conditions outlined.

“Holme Valley Parish Council’s Code of Conduct is based on the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership and every councillor must recognise that inappropriate actions have consequences.”

Mr Dalton caused controversy in June when he wrote provocative tweets referring to overweight health workers.

Following multiple complaints, which led to a formal investigation by Kirklees Council, he referred to a Labour councillor as “traitor Remainer #CommonPurpose scum” and a council officer as “Monitoring Nazi”.

Kirklees Council received more than 40 complaints. A source said a tweet had been referred to the police as a hate crime.

West Yorkshire Police later confirmed it was investigating an allegation of malicious communications.

However Gavin Felton, who set up the DVP and is currently its chairman, said previously that the parish council had not followed process and procedure in the way it had approached Mr Dalton’s case.

He said decisions had been made informally at a meeting held in secret and that the DVP would consider taking the case to judicial review if the council was found not to have conducted itself properly.

He said the cost of legal action could be as much as £60,000.

A the “principal council” responsible for considering complaints made about parish and town councillors in its area Kirklees Council will bear the cost of investigating the dossier of complaints against Mr Dalton.

But it has limited powers to chastise or punish elected members even if they are found to have breached the council’s Code of Conduct.

It has no power to suspend district, town or parish councillors for poor behaviour.

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