Newton Pop councillor cleared after police enquiry

Graham Salter. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 8991-23-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24. Graham Salter. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 8991-23-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
6:00 AM

A PARISH councillor, who was reported to the police for voting on a controversial planning application, has thanked people for their support after enquiries found he had no case to answer.

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Graham Salter always maintained he had never done anything wrong - and has lamented a waste of public money in expressing his relief that the long-running matter is over.

Councillor Salter, a Newton Poppleford representative who works as a financial advisor in Sidmouth, said: “It’s been very stressful.”

He was ‘shocked and disappointed’ when a complaint was made about him in May last year, and voluntarily went in for police questioning.

Detectives made enquiries, which were subsequently dropped, after an unknown party alleged that Cllr Salter had a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) when he participated in a debate over proposals for 40 homes off King Alfred Way.

Failure to register a DPI, and subsequently taking part in the debate and voting on the matter it relates to, was made a criminal offence in 2012 as part of the Localism Act. A DPI is an issue it is deemed may cause conflict with a representative’s role as an elected member.

At a meeting of Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council on May 13, 2013, Mr Salter spoke of concerns relating to the application and voted against it.

Members narrowly voted to oppose the proposal, but the application was subsequently approved by the district council.

Mr Salter owns land next to the development site, but was adamant the scheme would not affect the value of his property as it sits on a two-acre plot.

He said he was not opposed to development of the land and his concerns related to the application process.

Mr Salter had declared a personal interest on four previous occasions.

He said this week that the police had been ‘excellent’ and thanked detectives for their professionalism, adding: “They were only doing their job.

“The worst part is the waste of money.

“I still don’t know who was responsible [for reporting him to police].

“I’d like to thank all the members of the public that have stopped me in the street and given me support.

“I’ve been astounded that people I don’t even know have told me to stand my ground.”

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