The Brighton resident felt “mocked” after councilors laughed at spending concerns

One RESIDENT said she felt “mocked” and “disrespected” by council members after raising concerns about expenses claimed at a council meeting.

Ms King was laughed at and mocked as she asked her question, while council members applauded as Cllr Mac Cafferty defended the council’s allocation of childcare costs to allow for greater diversity among elected officials.

An investigation by The Argus later revealed that Councilwoman Alex Phillips had overclaimed childcare costs on several occasions, leading to an independent inquiry into her spending.

That investigation found that between October 2019 and March 2021 she overclaimed 55 of her 74 childcare costs, with potential overpayments of up to £482.34.

The Argus: Councilman Alex Phillips (left) with husband and fellow councilor Tom DruittCouncilor Alex Phillips (left) with husband and fellow councilor Tom Druitt

Speaking to The Argus, Ms King said: “I felt disrespected and humiliated when my question on Council members’ spending was mocked by the Council Chamber.

“It felt like the Greens’ tool was to deter and even cancel public inquiries under their government; trying to make the public feel stupid for asking questions even when they’re perfectly valid — as it turns out.”

She also criticized the council members’ attitude towards residents, claiming that the administration “refuses to address real and local issues”.

Ms King said: “They would much rather waste time debating international or political issues over which our Council has no jurisdiction, or push through their own projects and agendas which we have not asked for at public expense or voted for.”

At a full council meeting on Thursday night, Ms King asked Cllr Mac Cafferty to apologize for overcharging Cllr Phillips’ childcare costs and for the behavior of those who had “booed, hissed and knocked out” members of the public who raised concerns about spending at council meetings .

In response to Ms King’s question, Cllr Phillips reiterated her apology for overspending, saying: “A thorough independent and transparent review of the issue has been carried out.

“Recommendations have been agreed to improve the process so that there is absolute confidence in how members’ claims are managed, meaning there are clearer guidelines and systems in place.

“It was never my intention to make allegations that were inconsistent with Council policies and procedures. I have issued a public and sincere apology and made it clear that I will work to ensure that all future claims, including childcare, are in accordance with Council policies and procedures.

Ms King went on to say that any other person in similar circumstances would have been fired for gross misconduct and asked if Cllr Phillips would resign. The city council declined to comment further. The Brighton resident felt “mocked” after councilors laughed at spending concerns

Fry Electronics Team

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