TWO senior parish councillors breached the code of conduct during a debate on affordable housing plans in their village near Tadcaster, an investigation concluded.
Selby District Council’s monitoring office was called in to investigate after complaints were made about Bolton Percy councillors Denise Ford and David Robinson, who were chair and vice-chair of the parish at the time.
Former Selby district councillor Brian Percival and resident Kathleen Rhodes claimed the councillors failed to declare a personal and prejudicial interest when the parish considered the affordable housing proposals for land in Oak Avenue, saying they should have withdrawn from the room and avoided taking part in any discussions or vote.
In letters to them, upholding their complaints, deputy monitoring officer Michelle Sacks said it was clear there had been a significant amount of concern about an attempt by Selby District Council, the Rural Housing Trust and Broadacres Housing Association to identify and develop a small affordable housing scheme.
But she said the strength of those concerns did not set aside the duty of councillors to comply with the code.
She was satisfied the two councillors had a personal and prejudicial interest in the proposal – which they had failed to declare.
In Coun Robinson’s case, he owned and lived in a property in the vicinity of the site and his financial interest would be affected by the development, while Coun Ford was a close personal friend of Coun Robinson.
Mrs Ford said she had resigned from the parish council last year, not because of the findings but because of new rules for declarations of interest which had been introduced, which would have led to personal details going online in an unnecessarily intrusive manner.
She claimed she had felt she did not have to declare an interest over the affordable housing issue because the district had not followed due process.
Coun Robinson, who remains on the parish as vice chair, said he accepted he had made a mistake and should have formally declared an interest, even though other councillors had all known he lived near the site.
He said he had received no training at the time about the code of conduct, although he and other parish councillors had since received such training.