Forfar residents have voiced support for local councillor Colin Brown following his two-month suspension from Angus Council business.
As revealed in last week’s Dispatch and Herald, Mr Brown was suspended after a Standards Commission for Scotland hearing found he had breached the Councillors’ Code of Conduct by failing to declare an interest during discussions surrounding the sale of Angus Council offices at The Cross in Forfar to pub chain JD Wetherspoon.
The deal fell through when the company had to increase its £350,000 offer after the closed doors deal was made public and the building was placed on the open market.
The hearing found that, during meetings where the matter was discussed, Mr Brown failed to declare the financial interests of his son-in-law who is involved in the local licensed trade. The councillor subsequently apologised, saying the failure was due to a misunderstanding rather than an attempt to mislead.
Following the hearing Councillor Iain Gaul, Angus Council leader, called for Mr Brown’s resignation which he has dismissed, saying that he has “no thoughts” of stepping down.
Comments posted on The Dispatch’s Facebook page this week have expressed unanimous support for Mr Brown who, according to one, is “Mr Forfar” and is being made a “sacrificial lamb” for the council’s handling of the sale.
Elayne Buchan said: “Colin Brown is a good man who has given up a lot of time looking out for and helping vulnerable people in Forfar.”
Sharon Forbes, meanwhile, said she thought Mr Brown was concerned for all the town’s pubs and restaurants, not specifically his son-in-law’s establishment.
She continued: “If the multi-million pound corporation that is Wetherspoons had been allowed to set up shop in Forfar it would have meant the closure of at least 10 other businesses.”
Stewart Reid said: “Colin has been used as a sacrificial lamb to deflect the attention of the ineptitude of the council over this whole affair. As far as I’m concerned Colin is Mr Forfar, always has had the interests of the locals at heart.”
While Mr Brown accepted the hearing’s findings, he said he was representing constituents’ concerns.