A Cornwall councillor faces a secret ‘trial’ behind closed doors this week after a complaint was made against her by a senior officer, writes Local Democracy Reporter Lee Trewhela. 

It follows comments she made while airing her concerns about the council moving a self-styled ‘Gypsy’ who had been living in a bus instead of his council house in Falmouth to a new site on council owned land.

Cllr Tudor, Independent councillor for Threemilestone and Chacewater, has refused to apologise after officials found her guilty of breaching the council’s code of conduct. The complaint against the councillor has been brought by Alison Bulman, the local authority’s strategic director for care and wellbeing.

Falmouth Packet: Dulcie Tudour has got into trouble over her remarks about Neil Wainwright and his bus in FalmouthDulcie Tudour has got into trouble over her remarks about Neil Wainwright and his bus in Falmouth (Image: Staff)

Ms Bulman made the complaint on November 7 last year, alleging a “breach of confidentiality in relation to a vulnerable service user”. An investigation found that Cllr Tudor was “guilty” and recommended that she should apologise and undergo training on data protection and equality and diversity issues.

We understand it’s the first time in at least 20 years that a Cornwall Council officer has made a complaint against a councillor.

The issue surrounds a report written last year concerning the council’s dealings with self-styled Gypsy, Neil Wainwright, who preferred to live in a double decker bus rather than the council house which had been allotted to him in Glasney Road, Falmouth.

Falmouth Packet: Mr Wainwright's bus was parked outside his council house home for many yearsMr Wainwright's bus was parked outside his council house home for many years

Residents, and some councillors, had been calling for over four years for the empty council house to be used while Mr Wainwright lived on his bus parked directly outside the property.

Safety concerns were also raised after Mr Wainwright fed electrical cables from the house to the bus.

The issue had been covered in the news several times over the years, with Mr Wainwright happily choosing to speak to both local and national media about his lifestyle choice while his council house sat unlived in.

In November last year, the bus – which had been bought for him by Cornwall Council – was towed away and taken to New County Hall / Lys Kernow in Truro, where it is still parked.

Cllr Tudor told me at the time: “In May I was told by the council’s strategic director of sustainable growth and development and the strategic director of care and wellbeing that a decision had been made to provide a site for Mr Wainwright and his bus within the Langarth Garden Village development area.

"There was no way I was going to go along with plans for the first resident of the council’s flagship garden village development to be an anti-social ‘Gypsy’ living in a bus.

“After making my concerns known to the leader of the council a decision was made to send him elsewhere. Mr Wainwright now becomes some other poor councillor’s headache.

“I must say I am at a loss to understand why such an awful lot of time, resource and taxpayers’ money has been spent on this individual who refuses to live either on one the council’s costly travellers’ sites or in the council house which was provided for him in Falmouth for the last four years. I believe the council even bought him the double-decker bus! It’s extraordinary really.”

Falmouth Packet: Dulcie Tudor has got into trouble over her commentsDulcie Tudor has got into trouble over her comments (Image: LDR)

It is understood it was these comments which led to the Code of Conduct complaint against the councillor.

The code of conduct investigations, which are paid for with taxpayers’ money, lead to nothing more serious than a censure. Many councillors feel they are unnecessary and curb free speech.

Last year the leader of Cornwall Council’s Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Colin Martin, described the code of conduct rules as “bizarre” after he was found guilty of an offence and censured. Also last year, council leader Cllr Linda Taylor was cleared of breaching the code after calling the organisers of anti-refugee protests in Newquay “abhorrent, racist and bigots”. She refused to apologise for the comment.

The press and public will be excluded from Cllr Tudor’s ‘trial’ this week on the grounds that some “information relating to an individual” might be released. In 2019, she received her first censure after speaking to the media about “the sinister underbelly of Cornish nationalism” following a campaign of serious harassment against her.