Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 1, Shire Hall
Contact: Caroline Marshall, democratic services officer
Election of chairperson
To elect a chairperson for the meeting.
Councillor ACR Chappell was elected as chairperson for the meeting.
Declarations of Interests
There were no declarations of interest.
Exclusion of press and public
In the opinion of the Proper Officer, the following item will not be, or is likely not to be, open to the public and press at the time it is considered.
RECOMMENDATION: that under section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Schedule 12(A) of the Act, as indicated below and it is considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
2 Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.
On a majority vote, it was resolved not to exclude the press and public.
To consider an appeal by a complainant.
The head of corporate governance introduced the item and explained that Councillor G Fielding, Cradley Parish Council had expressed his view that he believed the complaint to be part of a personal campaign against him and would not be attending the meeting.
The monitoring officer outlined the report and explained that the complaint was about whether or not Councillor Fielding had a close personal association with a former lengthsman as the lengthsman’s vehicle was stored on Councillor Fielding’s drive.
Councillor Fielding had explained that the vehicle and other materials were stored at his premises due to insufficient space being available to the lengthsman.
It was noted that Councillor Fielding had sought the advice of the clerk to Cradley Parish Council at a meeting in relation to whether a declaration of interest should be made and had received advice from the clerk that no declaration was necessary.
On the information available at the time the original complaint was considered, there was no evidence of close personal association and therefore a finding of no breach of the code had been determined under monitoring officer resolution.
As part of the appeal information supplied by the complainant, it was stated that Councillor Fielding had described the lengthsman as a “like a son” and as a “mate”. This information had not been provided as part of the original complaint and may have impacted on the original decision.
The panel then heard from the complainant who highlighted the following:
· The comments as a son had been heard during another meeting and by the complainant’s husband.
· The subject member’s comments had not been seen prior to the appeal and the complainant expressed concern that the comments were inaccurate at best and untrue at worse.
· Councillor Fielding had had contact with the former lengthsman as he had been invited to meetings of the parish council working group so the statement was inaccurate.
As part of the panel’s discussion, the following was highlighted:
· The former lengthsman did not live in the parish
· The complainant had no evidence that the former lengthsman went to social events with Councillor Fielding
· There were potentially other sites in Cradley where the vehicle could be stored as it was a quiet rural village.
· Upon re-election to Cradley Parish Council, Cllr Fielding had resumed the role of administrator for the lengthsman’s scheme but this was not minuted but had been agreed informally by the parish council.
· The original lengthsman had been a gentleman from the village until the former lengthsman had been appointed. A new lengthsman has subsequently been appointed. The complainant confirmed there was no suggestion that the work undertaken by the former lengthsman had been at fault.
· There was uncertainty over whether Councillor Fielding owned the truck as until recently it had still been parked on his driveway.
· It was confirmed Councillor Fielding was the P3 officer which is separate funding to the lengthsman scheme.
· There had been abeyance of the lengthsman scheme between Councillor Fielding’s resignation from the parish council in October ... view the full minutes text for item 4.