Merton Councillor Peter Walker cleared of misconduct
Merton’s former education spokesman, who was sacked in April for “wholly unacceptable” behaviour, has been cleared of bringing the council into disrepute.
Councillor Peter Walker, who represents Figge’s Marsh ward in Mitcham, said he was “delighted” after Merton Council’s standards board ruled he did not break the Code of Conduct.
Councillor Walker was dismissed as cabinet member for education after he was filmed ripping down a poster promoting a campaign group opposed to the expansion of Dundonald primary school in Wimbledon.
He said: “It vindicates my belief that removing these illegal party political fly posts from my local park was correct.
“I look forward to seeing the expansion of Dundonald School as it is desperately needed for young children in the centre of Wimbledon.”
Within 24 hours of the film being published on YouTube, Coun Walker was sacked by Stephen Alambritis, the leader of the council, who said: “it’s not the way this Labour administration does business.”
This prompted an opposition Conservative councillor Richard Hilton, to refer Coun Walker to the standards committee, a cross-party body of elected and non-elected members which decides whether councillors have broken the Code of Conduct.
Yesterday, Coun Alambritis stood by his decision to sack Coun Walker.
He said: “Peter and I had a long conversation when I asked him to step down. I appointed him to that position but because of his conduct I couldn’t support it.
“I do not support this casual approach to referring councillors to standards by the opposition. I am pleased the matter has been thrown out.”
Coun Walker was replaced as cabinet member for education by Coun Martin Whelton.
Merton Council wants to expand Dundonald Primary School by redeveloping the pavilion in Dundonald Recreation Ground.
The council's planning application is likely to be heard in September, but an ongoing legal row remains over whether it is lawful to build on the Rec.
Campaigners from the Protect Dundonald Rec group argue a longstanding covenant protects the Rec from redevelopment and claim the council's plan will set a precedent for a further loss of green space in the future.