‘Shocked’ councillor denies any wrongdoing after police questioning
- Credit: Archant
A PARISH councillor says he is ‘shocked’ to be the subject of police enquiries – for speaking and voting in a meeting over a controversial planning application for Newton Poppleford.
Graham Salter voluntarily went in for questioning by detectives who are looking into whether he allegedly had a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) when he took part in a debate over proposals for 42 homes in the village. He denies any wrongdoing.
Failure to register a DPI prior to discussions, and subsequently participating in them and voting on the matter it relates to, was made a criminal offence last June 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.
Councillor Salter has become popular with a large number of villagers for questioning Clinton Devon Estates’ blueprints for land off King Alfred Way.
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He spoke of concerns relating to the application and voted against it when the plans were debated by Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council on May 13.
Members eventually voted four to three to oppose the proposals.
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Cllr Salter owns land next to the site, but is adamant the scheme will not affect the value of his property in Farthings Lane. His two-acre field separates his home from the plot and its potential traffic access is not nearby.
Mr Salter says he is not opposed to development of the land but his concerns related to the application process. He claims he was not told whether he had a DPI prior to the talks – despite him requesting confirmation from the district council’s legal bosses.
Mr Salter said he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ that a complaint had been made to the police.
“I do not have a DPI and I have always refuted it,” he said.
“I have a personal interest which I have declared on four different occasions. As far as I’m concerned, I have done nothing wrong.”
A police spokesman said Mr Salter’s view on the planning application was ‘of no interest’ to officers.
He added: “Inquiries are being made into whether it is a DPI or not. The Crown Prosecution Service will be the final arbiters of that.”
He said Mr Salter faced a six to eight week wait.
A spokesman for the district council said the complaint against Mr Salter ‘went directly’ to the police and not via its monitoring officer.
He said the authority had previously ‘provided advice’ on the matter and it was ‘up to the individual to make their own mind up’ on DPIs.