Councillors row over ‘disgraceful behaviour’

A COUNCILLOR was furiously asked if he wanted to be an elected member or a ‘Twitter troll’ in an angry exchange at a meeting.

Stalybridge South member Cllr Liam Billington highlighted the fact the Tameside authority’s executive member for finance and economic growth, Cllr Oliver Ryan, appears to be scrutinised by an audit panel of which his mother, Cllr Laura Boyle, is a member.

However, that backfired as it drew a furious response, with Cllr Ryan describing it as ‘disgraceful behaviour.’

Cllr Oliver Ryan and Cllr Liam Billington

He also asked Cllr Billington: “I think you need to ask yourself, do you want to be a councillor and represent the residents of Stalybridge South with the respect they deserve or do you want to be a Twitter troll in real life?”

On his mother’s appointment to the audit panel, he added: “I’m sure there’s a suitable amount of distance between the jobs we do.

“And actually she is yet to attend a meeting of the audit panel so judge her on her performance, not your sexist bias. The monitoring officer will of course look into your comments.

“She’s a strong, independent and talented woman who has her own mind.”

The exchange came after Cllr Billington brought up the appointment during a meeting of Tameside’s full council on Tuesday, July 20.

While talking about the general subject of accountability, transparency and professional standards, he said: “It looks like you’re marking your own homework.

“The audit committee scrutinises the council’s spending, so it would be inappropriate to be scrutinising yourself.

“I can see Cllr Oliver Ryan is no longer on the audit committee but he has been replaced by his own mother, Cllr Laura Boyle.

“Can you honestly say that your mother will publicly criticise or scrutinise their own son?”

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