Plymouth Labour has condemned the Conservative leader of Plymouth City Council’s comment that writing to the prime minister about the lowering of standards in public life would be a “waste of a letter”.
Richard Bingley’s comments came in a debate in response to a motion by Stoke ward Labour councillor Cllr Sally Cresswell.
Cllr Cresswell brought the motion to Monday’s full council, prompted by Boris Johnson’s recent rewriting of the Ministerial Code which removed reference to the Nolan Principles of Public life from the foreword.
“I am hugely concerned by a culture and desire to water down the commitment to the Nolan principles,” said Cllr Cresswell, who is a Stoke ward councillor.
“Commitment to the principles is something which has been key to high standards in public life for the last 25 years.”
During the debate Cllr Bingley said writing the letter which Cllr Cresswell’s motion requested would not “be a great, positive message for Plymouth”.
“It’s a waste of a letter if I’m honest,” said Cllr Bingley.
“I would want it to be on something much more serious than what may or may not have gone on in Downing Street or elsewhere.”
Leader of Plymouth Labour Cllr Tudor Evans OBE said it was “hugely disappointing” that the Plymouth Conservatives refused to back the motion.
“They, of course, tried to make the argument that all politicians are the same and that what has been going on in Downing Street and Boris Johnson’s continued degradation of standards in public life is no big deal. They dismissed it as not serious which just underlines how little, still, the Plymouth Conservatives understand the impact of Partygate and Boris Johnson’s appalling leadership.
“It’s especially surprising given Cllr Bingley made upholding the Nolan Principles a cornerstone of his leadership in his first speech to the council, the first opportunity he’s had to promote them, he’s failed.”