HUSBAND-and-wife councillors in West Cumbria have been warned for flouting standards – including the sharing of confidential documents.

Several complaints lodged against Robert Huck, chairman of Parton Parish Council, and his wife Julie have been upheld by the district authority’s Standards and Ethics Committee.

Claims that Mr Huck’s “inaction” left the parish council without the correct banking arrangements, leading to a delay in paying creditors – including the clerk’s salary – have also been upheld in a unanimous decision.

The latest twist in the long-running saga comes against a background of public disquiet, including growing calls for the troubled organisation to be disbanded altogether.

A petition of ‘no confidence’ set up by the community the parish council was elected to serve has now garnered almost 200 signatures.

Meanwhile, Copeland Council has received more than 20 complaints about the conduct and behaviour relating to Parton parish councillors since May’s elections.

The Standards and Ethics Committee this week ruled that “on the balance of probabilities” Mr Huck, a former Whitehaven School teacher and member of the Police Authority, did indeed forward a confidential email, which “he should not have done” to a third party.

The email itself detailed private council business including the ongoing difficulties between the parish council, former clerk Chris Shaw and the chairman.

The committee also agreed that Mr Huck “should not have allowed delays to be occasioned in the payment of creditors, including the clerk.”

The report said he “should have done everything possible to ensure that the bank mandate was competed promptly”.

It also adds that if Mr Huck had any doubts or concerns about the lawfulness of decisions made about the mandate then he should have called an extraordinary general meeting.

Meanwhile, Mrs Huck was also found to have forwarded a confidential email to a third party along with a “derogatory slur” levelled against a serving member of the parish council.

The Standards Committee agreed that Mrs Huck had reproduced and distributed a document marked “in confidence”, forwarding an email “in error” to the intended councillor’s wife who was not an elected member.

Members also concluded that Mrs Huck’s conduct had gone against the Nolan Principles which set out the standards of “honesty and integrity” expected of those who hold public office.

The Standards and Ethics Committee ruled that the Hucks should be issued with a conditional warning about their future behaviour which means that any future breach in the next two years will be added to these ones.

Chris Shaw, the former clerk of Parton Parish Council, declined to comment. The Hucks have also declined to comment pending the outcome of an appeal.

In August another Parton parish councillor, Joseph Williamson, was given a formal warning for Facebook posts described as “hateful towards Muslims and black people”, though he branded the ruling “unjust” and “over-the-top”.

The council is now advertising for a part-time parish clerk.