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Complaint upheld over independent councillor's online comments

An Independent councillor has been found to have breached the Royal Borough’s code of conduct following comments made online about the council leader.

Cllr Wisdom Da Costa (Ind, Clewer North) faced a complaint regarding social media posts made in the aftermath of a Maidenhead Development Management Panel meeting on April 11.

Council leader Simon Dudley, a non-panel member, spoke in favour of a Shanly Homes development for 67 new homes in Oldfield Road during the meeting.

Afterwards, Cllr Da Costa posted on Facebook that ‘there might well be a role for the police in this matter’, regarding the speech. He then reposted the statement on Twitter, leading to an official complaint by his Conservative counterpart.

The council’s monitoring officer, Mary Severin, said: “It is clearly unacceptable for councillors to make false accusations about each other.

“Cllr Da Costa was unable to explain the reason for making the police matter comment.

“He said that he didn’t know and couldn’t comment on police involvement, but it would be reasonable to assume that he must have been able to foresee the damage caused by airing the possibility, rather than choosing to avoid the subject all together.”

She upheld the complaint and raised concerns about the harm the comments could make to the reputation of the council.

Cllr Dudley did not want to comment on the matter further but referred the Advertiser to Cllr Ed Wilson (Con, Clewer South) who called on Cllr Da Costa to resign.

In a statement Cllr Da Costa said he had made the comments in a ‘conversational style’ on Facebook and they had been posted out of context on Twitter. He said: “When I was alerted as to the potential problem, I immediately removed the post from Twitter and called Cllr Dudley to apologise. He refused to accept my apology.

“I hold my hand up and accept that I have to be a little bit more careful about how I phrase things on social media, to avoid misinterpretation.”

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