Councillors round on Debra Storr

Complaint: Seven of Cllr Debra Storr's Area Committee colleagues have referred her to the Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life.
Complaint: Seven of Cllr Debra Storr's Area Committee colleagues have referred her to the Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life.

AN ELLON councillor has been reported to the Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life, after no fewer than SEVEN of her colleagues on the Formartine Area Committee decided to lodge a joint complaint about her behaviour at a recent meeting.

The complaint about Councillor Debora Storr, which has been lodged by the cross-party group of councillors, concerns her alleged conduct at the Formartine Area Committee meeting on January 17, where the committee discussed an application by Trump Golf Scotland to build a clubhouse.

At the meeting, Cllr Storr was outspoken in her criticism of the design of the project, describing it as ‘resembling a Victorian lunatic asylum’ and accusing Mr Trump of lacking taste.

Afterwards, she was involved in a heated confrontation with Trump representative George Sorial, which resulted in Cllr Storr making a complaint to Police.

During the committee meeting, Cllr Storr made reference to the fact that the clubhouse had been handed the ‘Zit Award’ by Urban Realm magazine for ‘Scotland’s Worst Building’, despite the fact that it has yet to be built.

However, it has since emerged that Cllr Storr had herself nominated all the Trump/Menie full planning permissions since the granting of the original outline permission for the magazine’s ‘Pock Mark’ award, for what in her words was “the determined subversion of the planning system”.

Now, Conservatives Jim Gifford and Gillian Owen, Liberal Democrats Anne Robertson and Isobel Davidson and SNP councillors Allan Hendry, Rob Merson and Sandy Duncan have submitted a dossier to the Standards Commission, setting out what they describe as Cllr Storr’s ‘inappropriate language and behaviour’, her alleged lack of respect towards the applicant and his representatives, and what they claim is her failure to disclose a conflict of interest regarding the application.

It means that every member of the committee who was present, excepting chairman John Loveday and Storr’s Democratic Independent Group colleague Paul Johnston is party to the complaint.

Councillor Storr has been a long-standing and vocal critic of the Trump development at Menie, a stance which led to her being suspended from then leaving the Lib Dem council group before resigning from the party.

Her critics say that her promotion of anti-Trump fundraising CDs on her website together with her support for the ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ film, has left her so closely associated with opponents of the scheme that she is no longer able to act as an impartial observer.

Councillor Jim Gifford spoke to the Ellon Times about why the councillors had felt the need to take the unprecedented step of mounting a cross-party complaint.

“We all felt shocked after the meeting at the way Cllr Storr had behaved”, he said.

“It’s fine to have strong views but there are ways of expressing them, and Cllr Storr went well beyond that.

“Her actions at the meeting reflect upon all of us, and that’s why we decided to make the complaint.”

He was backed up by fellow Mid Formartine councillor Allan Hendry, who said he had been “absolutely disgusted” with her conduct.

“I have found her conduct to be disgraceful on occasion and her language intemperate for someone in her position”, he said.

“I have formed the opinion that she is totally obsessed with thwarting the Menie development and has allowed it to take over her life.

“In my view, she should stand back, take a long hard look at herself and her motives and start acting like an elected member should.”

When the Times spoke to Cllr Storr, she said: “The Commission has not referred any complaint from my fellow councillors to me.

“Standard advice from the commission when complaints have been received is for the person being complained about not to make any comment.”

Her Democratic Independent Group colleague, Councillor Paul Johnston, who was also present at the Area Committee Meeting in question, said that he was not aware of any incident which would put Cllr Storr in breach of the code of conduct.

“The release of this information may itself be a breach of the code of conduct because of its vindictive nature, and trying to prejudice the outcome of the Commissioner’s investigations, if any,” he said.