Village councillors breach code of conduct

PUBLISHED: 12:50 22 November 2010

Steve Bridges

Steve Bridges

Archant

AN INVESTIGATION into the behaviour of two village councillors has found that they failed to comply with the parish code of conduct - for up to two years.

Winscombe and Sandford parish Councillors, Steve Bridges and Mike Williamson, did not declare a personal and prejudicial interest at meetings of an affordable housing working party established by the council. They also did not declare an interest in the topic at the full parish council meetings.

The duo voted and took part in discussions about the now defunct Well Close development in Winscombe – despite having a ‘close association’ with the developer behind the housing plans, Richard Mead, of Summerfield Developments.

As a result of complaints against the pair, an investigation was launched which culminated in a North Somerset Council standards committee complaints hearing

A report from the enquiry said: “The committee find that both Cllr Bridges and Cllr Williamson had a close association with Mr Mead and therefore each should have declared a personal interest in the business of the second affordable housing working party at its meetings from September 2008 onwards.”

The committee found that in the case of Cllr Williamson he breached one element of the parish council code as his relationship with Mr Mead was ‘not so significant’, but Cllr Bridges breached two aspects of the code as his relationship was deemed relevant.

In regards to Cllr Williamson’s behaviour no action will be taken but Cllr Bridges will be issued with a formal reprimand.

A spokesman from the parish council said: “We are looking at tightening up our terms of reference to comply with the necessary regulations.”

In June this year English Rural Housing Association decided not to pursue any low-cost new build projects in the village due to ‘ongoing complexities’, but chairman of the parish council, Archie Forbes, said the council will continue to seek a new housing enabler to carry on with the affordable housing plan.

The plans have been met with strong opposition from a village action group

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