Councillor accused of Code of Conduct breach

30 Jul

“I don’t want to get into a debate” , said the Chairman of Newton Poppleford parish council, which yet again broke up in disarray, at 10.30pm,– with councillors and clerk getting up to go home while members of the public were still speaking. Just before this late ‘open discussion’ part  of the meeting – a vote was taken to refer a councillor to the monitoring officer for “multiple breaches” of the code of conduct.

Newish councillor Graham Salter, who has been highly critical of the Clinton Devon Estates’ plan to build houses on the AONB near King Alfred Way (KAW), was accused by fellow councillor Chris Cole of disrupting the smooth running of the council, misleading it, and bringing it into disrepute.

Cllr Cole’s motion to refer Cllr Salter was carried by eight votes.

Cllr Salter is already the subject of police enquiries having been accused by someone on the parish council of discussing the  KAW application while he had a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI). He firmly denies ever agreeing that he has a DPI, and believes opponents on the council are attempting to silence him because they favour the Clinton Devon Estates’ proposal.


8 Responses to “Councillor accused of Code of Conduct breach”

  1. Sandra Semple July 30, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    It is not proper for a council to discuss this: imagine if it were allowed to happen at EDDC when the Mike Allen stuff was going on for example. Councillors or the clerk should simply report him straight to the Monitoring Officer stating which paragraph he has contravened. It is then up to her what happens next.

    The clerk, being also an EDDC councillor and on its Planning Committee, should know this and cut short any discussion. But that was never going to happen was it.

    Perhaps Councillor Salter could counterclaim for harrassment.

    • Emma August 5, 2013 at 7:07 am #

      Sandra, the Clerk even actively encouraged this discussion. He had put it on the agenda! Another item on the agenda involved giving Cllr Salter a public dressing-down for not handing over a letter as quickly as the council would have liked.

      Needless to say, similar issues that do not involve Cllr Salter, such as the Clerk failing to update the EDDC planning website in good time, failing to report Clinton Devon Estates promptly for making false claims or failing to provide accurate minutes in a timely manner, do not result in an agenda item and attempted humiliation! Neither are we allowed discussion of the laughably flawed process by which certain members of the council steered the public to ‘choose’ their preferred site for development and the reasons why that makes the data invalid…but that’s another topic in its own right!

  2. Karen Wheeler July 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    I thought Graham was a little defensive on Monday night.

    The doctors surgery idea is brilliant – and seems v generous of the developer in my mind. I have experience in Cheshire and landowners aren’t that benevolent! Be careful babies aren’t thrown out with bath water!

    • Matt Coppell July 31, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      Don’t get too excited, there have been no guarantees from Coleridge that they have the means to fund or staff a new surgery if built. Had you heard the NHS has a £30b deficit?

    • Emma August 1, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

      I’m afraid I have to disagree with you there. It is absolutely true that the existing medical facilities in the village don’t comply with current guidance, and must be upgraded. There is no debate about that. However, what the doctors requested (and is stated in the Parish Plan) was a 2-room surgery that would accord with the rules and allow a moderately expanded level of service to be provided to Newton Pop and Harpford, in an environment that is fit for purpose. That all seems perfectly reasonable and could be achieved within the footprint of the existing building with the help of a section 106 agreement that could be negotiated with any site – not only KAW, as the council would have you believe. Indeed, the current application adjacent to Badger Close pledges a community contribution for facilities such as this.

      The current surgery is only held for a few hours, twice a week, and is hugely underused. There doesn’t seem to be an excessive demand for medical services from within the parish, although it is a useful facility to have. Any increased demand could be catered for by making an improved 2-room branch surgery operate with extended hours.

      What is now being proposed is a 4-room, full-time health centre. In order to make this viable, additional patients would have to come to Newton Pop from elsewhere in the district, on an already congested road. We, and the council, ought to remember that Newton Pop is a village, and we should not have aspirations for facilities on a scale that is more suited to a town – unless we want to see the village ultimately expand to become a town in its own right?

  3. Sandra Semple July 31, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    But what if it is being made twice as large because the developer has even bigger plans? Or maybe it is meant to service the 1000+ houses Crealy want to build on their land? And wouldn’t you be defensive if it was happening to you?

    I’m not saying who is right or wrong, simply that the clerk, who should know procedures like the back of his hand, failed to follow them. Why?

  4. Springtime August 2, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Emma you don’t use he doctors in the village do you?

    • Emma August 3, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      From time to time I do use the branch surgery, although more commonly I go to Ottery. When I do visit the doctor in Newton Pop, I marvel at the fact that I sit in a huge waiting room (complete with 16 chairs!), usually in splendid isolation, before going in to a relatively small consulting room to see the only other person in the building! The layout is entirely counterintuitive.

      As I said, I’m all for upgrading the existing facilities, which don’t have to be palatial, just functional. I am against creating a full-time health centre that would need to bring people in from neighbouring areas to be cost-effective.

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