A COUNCILLOR has been sanctioned after commenting on a social media post about the salaries of two council workers.

Councillor Carla Arrighi, has been found to have breached Whitehaven Town Council's code of conduct after making a comment on a Facebook post about how much the clerk, Marlene Jewell, and deputy town clerk, Vanessa Gorley are paid.

Copeland Council's standards and ethics committee heard that in November last year, a member of the public had made a post on the Copeland Politics Facebook page, which said their salaries were "a drain on public funds".

The post went on to say: "Please can someone tell me what are we, the public getting for our money? By the looks of things, not very much."

Ms Arrighi had then replied: “Totally agree, Richard."

The committee members unanimously agreed that Ms Arrighi, who did not attend the hearing, had breached the code of conduct.

While the committee accepted that Ms Arrighi did not post under the name of councillor, they agreed that by making the comment, she had "shown disrespect".

She was issued with a conditional warning in respect of future behaviour for a period of two years.

A decision notice published by Copeland Council says: "As a member of Whitehaven Town Council and therefore the employer of the staff members involved in the complaint, the subject member had a duty of care to the complainants and should not have commented on such a post."

However, Ms Arrighi, who represents Whitehaven South on the town council, said she stood by the comment.

Speaking to The Whitehaven News, she said: "I totally stand by my comment on Facebook.

"I thought the verdict was very unfair as I did not state this as a councillor but as a member of the public. The committee stated that because I am well known, people would conclude that I was speaking as a councillor."

Ms Arrighi, who was a driving force behind the creation of Whitehaven Town Council, said she now regretted ever pushing for the authority to be set up.

"I was one of a small group of people who brought about Whitehaven having a town council, we collected signatures, many times in the rain, and engaged the press to help us," she said.

"It has actually been one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made.

"They have purchased a premises, which on the plus side means one less empty building in town, but meetings are still held elsewhere and it is only open for a very limited amount of time.

"Back to the council - it is being attended by less councillors every meeting, so is run by four stalwarts, who feel it is their council and their show.

"It is a total disappointment, not only to me but for the people of the town, money that could be better spent.

"They unfortunately think that by placing flowers around the town, it is the solution, when really it is just trying to hide the main issues. It is like having a beautiful vase of flowers in a dirty house, you still see the dirt eventually."

Other members of Whitehaven Town Council have stepped in to defend the clerk and deputy town clerk.

Chris Hayes, mayor of Whitehaven, said: "This is the kind of thing that a councillor should not do.

"They're our staff. We are supposed to look after them. We're not there to question how much they get paid. The government set the guidelines.

"We just have to make sure they're value for money and they definitely are. They are worth their weight in gold.

"I think it's a disgraceful way for someone to behave - to attack their own staff."

Graham Roberts, who represents the Harras ward on Whitehaven Town Council, said: "We have got outstanding value for money with the clerk and the deputy clerk. They give an outstanding amount of effort to the job. The town is getting a very good deal out of it. We are lucky to have them."

Marlene Jewell, clerk and responsible financial officer at Whitehaven Town Council, said: "We made a complaint under the code of conduct. That complaint was upheld and sanctions were imposed on councillor Arrighi, as can be seen on Copeland Borough Council's website."

An income and expenditure statement for Whitehaven Town Council from 2020-2021 revealed that £89,277 was spent on employees and allowances. This figure includes the salaries for two rangers for three days a week.