Councillor criticised over ‘breach of rules’

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 December 2013

A veteran councillor has come under fire for bringing Ottery Town Council ‘into disrepute’ after he divulged information about a private meeting with a developer.

Roger Giles said he told district councillor Claire Wright about a discussion that took place after the public had been excluded from a planning committee meeting on November 18.

Cllr Wright published the information - about developer Persimmon’s interest in building in West Hill - on her blog, prompting some councillors to say Cllr Giles had broken council rules.

Defending his actions at Monday’s council meeting, Cllr Giles said: “Some councillors seem to be saying that the knowledge that it is to meet a developer about their planning proposal is something that the public is not entitled to know about.

“No way in the world could the fact that the council is meeting a developer be confidential. It is complete nonsense.”

“This was not confidential - I have never in my 20 years as a councillor revealed anything that is confidential.”

He said that he told Cllr Wright because the matter was to do with a possible development in West Hill, and she had a right to know as the village’s district council representative.

But members at Monday’s meeting voted seven to five that Cllr Giles should have respected the confidentiality - regardless of whether he agreed with it.

However, it stopped short of excluding him from the planning committee until May 2014 by four votes to eight.

Cllr Andy Watmore said he had ‘some sympathy’ with the points made by Cllr Giles.

“But whether you agree with it or not – and there were parts that I didn’t agree with – I was bound by the confidential decision the council made on that day,” he added.

Cllr Paul Lewis said: “In my view, the information given was confidential, and breaches such as this put the council into disrepute.”

“Of course Cllr Wright is entitled to know – but through the correct channels.”

The matter will be referred to the district council’s monitoring officer by both the town council and Cllr Giles.


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