Charity debt row councillor subject to 'awful attack' broke no rules, inquiry finds

An internal Labour Party inquiry has found a councillor broke no rules over his involvement with a charity debt that resulted in a county court judgement.

The Labour group on Redcar and Cleveland Council conducted an investigation into the actions of cabinet member Adam Brook after it emerged his charity Grangetown Generations had been pursued over a £3,694 debt payable to a local coach firm. Jack’s Coaches secured a county court judgement in default against the charity with Cllr Brook, the chair of trustees and founder, being named in court papers.

He had apologised blaming “bank issues” leading the payment - which was later settled - to go awry and as a designated contact for Grangetown Generations said he never received paperwork from the court associated with the claim. Local Conservatives, including Teesside MPs Sir Simon Clarke and Jacob Young, had called on Cllr Brook, the cabinet member for neighbourhoods, to stand down, claiming he had breached the trust the public puts in elected members.

At a recent council meeting, Conservative councillor Peter Grogan again asked if Cllr Brook would resign, also questioning his “focus on other commitments” which the latter previously referred to. Cllr Brook, who previously stated there was no ill intentions on behalf of the charity, replied: “I will not be resigning, the [council] monitoring officer has already rejected a standards complaint and my party has found no breach in party rules.”

Cllr Grogan said: “We are public officials and have been given trust by the public regardless of whether our actions are done as Peter Grogan or Cllr Grogan.”

Council leader Alec Brown also confirmed the investigation had not found against Cllr Brook and likened the questioning conducted during it as akin to “Miss Marple”. He said Cllr Brook had been subject to an “awful attack” on him by political opponents and referred to “petty points scoring”.

Cllr Brown said: “It was a late invoice. Adam Brook did not get the county court judgement - the charity did - which is being appealed against. It is testament to the man that he is stood here now and answering questions today.

“I am pleased this has been settled and Adam has gone to great lengths to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The council leader added: “The only thing that Adam was guilty of is putting far too much time into things - he needs to manage his time correctly - and wanting to deliver for the residents of Redcar and Cleveland.

“He literally responds to every single e-mail with a ward visit, he is all over the borough everyday. He is the most hard working cabinet member for neighbourhoods I have seen in my ten years on the council.”

He also praised the “hard work” of Cllr Brook’s charity, which is based out of Grangetown library, adding: “They have helped thousands of people suffering from social exclusion, feeding them through the pandemic and taking them places they would never have been.”

Cllr Brook represents the Grangetown ward and was previously an independent before crossing to Labour.