Wednesday, March 13, 2013
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has reported comments made by one of its councillors to the police.
It is now waiting to find out whether they feel it is appropriate to investigate.
Mark Williams, Chief Executive of East Devon District Council said: “Earlier this week we promised to carefully assess comments made by Cllr Graham Brown to undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph and to respond on the powers the Council has to deal with possible breaches of the Councillor Code of Conduct.
“Whilst Cllr Brown is not a member of the planning committee which decides on planning applications his claims of being able to influence the system have deeply troubled both the council and the public.
“We have said before that we take the honesty and integrity of our planning system very seriously, and as such we have decided to report the matter to the police so they can decide if a criminal investigation is called for. We will of course cooperate fully with any investigation.
“Although a formal Councillor Code of Conduct complaint has been received, the nature of the material published by the Daily Telegraph suggests a referral to the police under the Bribery Act 2010 is appropriate and the best thing we can do is involve the police as an independent body. The police have responsibility for investigating for possible criminal offences, whereas in contrast the Council’s Standards Committee has very limited sanctions available to it if breaches of the Code of Conduct are found. This has been true since the Localism Act 2011 reduced the Committee’s powers. The Standards Committee no longer has powers to suspend a Member from the Council, for example. For the time being a possible investigation under the Code of Conduct is being placed on hold pending the police response.”
Due to the current issues surrounding Cllr Brown and also his involvement in the East Devon Business Forum, council staff will not be committing time to this joint body for the time being.