November 10, 2006

Standards Board jottings

Christopher Booker has written about the ridiculous and anti-democratic Standards Board stance on pre-determination. The Blackburn Citizen reports another example of the doctrine.

Councillor Browne was said to have broken the rules over a proposed a takeaway in Bridge Street, Darwen - the plan for which has since been refused. The paper summarises its understanding of the rules.
Under local government rules, councillors on the planning committee are not allowed to make up their mind about an application before a meeting.

A councillor found to be breaking the rules could face suspension.
Before the application went to the Planning Committee, the Councillor had told a paper the town did not need any more takeaways. He then spoke against it at the planning committee hearing, and was accused of breaking the rules.
Coun Browne said a letter sent to him stated the allegations had been dropped on the grounds that his input could not have swayed the vote as the application was recommended for refusal anyway. And he vowed not to be silenced from representing his constituents and having his say.
Surely it's desirable for a Councillor to tell his constituents what his views are beforehand. That gives them the chance to say whether they agree or not.

Meanwhile, in North Devon MP Nick Harvey has called for the abolition of the Standards Board, reports the North Devon Gazette. He is arguing that it has spent time and money on petty squabbles between councillors. The paper then reveals that an investigation into a local councillor's conduct has cost £5,000 - which is paid from the local council tax.

The Eastern Daily Press tell us that the chairman of Breckland Council could face an investigation by the government standards watchdog over allegations that he used foul language to tell a Midlands developer to get out of a Norfolk village.

This is an easy way for self-important people to puff up trivial local complaints. And who pays? Why, the taxpayers.

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