Sidmouth councillor apologises for not declaring interest at meeting

Councillor Matt Booth has had to apologise for not declaring an interest about Sidmouth's Port Royal

Councillor Matt Booth has had to apologise for not declaring an interest about Sidmouth's Port Royal site. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth councillor has apologised for failing to declare an interest when questioning district council leaders about Sidmouth’s Port Royal site.

Councillor Matt Booth, who is district council ward member for Sidmouth Town, asked the leader of the council about the site at a meeting in July and did not declare an interest as he thought he had none.

However at the time, Cllr Booth was registered as a director of a company that had been set up to save Drill Hall, which is included within the Port Royal site.

All councillors at the start of any meeting are required to declare any interest where matters being discussed affect their interests. This includes any company in which they are a director of.

Speaking at last week’s full council meeting, Cllr Booth explained that he had formerly been a director at the company but it was his belief that this had ceased to be the case in 2017.

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He had thought that he had no need to declare an interest, but on checking with Companies House, established that he had not been removed as expected.

Cllr Booth, an Independent councillor, told the meeting: “For a brief period of time, I set up a company in support of a young lad who wanted to save the Drill Hall for the young people of Sidmouth.

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“He came to me and asked for advice. I said what he needed to do was set up a company and at his request, I set it up for him, but said that he had to take it on afterwards. I handed it over and thought it was done with.

“But after that meeting in July I looked at Companies House and realised that I had not been removed as a director as promised. That is the truth.  It was my belief as I was promised that I would have been removed as a director of the company. There is nothing more I can say. Put me in the stocks, I don’t mind.”

He added that he had apologised immediately to Cllr Tom Wright, who had discovered that he was still registered as a director and called the council’s monitoring officer immediately to discuss it.

Cllr Booth said: “I hand it to him as to what the next step is as I did not declare an interest when Drill Hall was discussed. I am not involved with anything to do with any company or campaign and I apologise.”

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