Councillor ‘should have stepped aside’ Tory Simon Hart will have no say on future of housing

Councillor ‘should have stepped aside’

Councillor ‘should have stepped aside’

First published in News by

A COUNCILLOR is tonight expected to be banned from taking part in a group to shape the future of new housing in the borough, because his house is next to a major development site.

Simon Hart, Tory Castle Point councillor for Victoria ward, was selected last month as one of ten members of a task and finish group, which is developing a draft local plan for the borough over the next 20 years.

Castle Point Council’s local plan sets out where 4,000 homes will be built in the borough by 2031.

However, Mr Hart has been warned he should not have accepted the role and instead should have declared an interest and stepped aside when the appointments were made by the cabinet last month.

Speaking to the Echo, Mr Hart said he is planning to resign, but disagrees with the council’s position.

He said: “I am in dispute over the situation I am in, but I am going to make a statement at full council saying I am resigning my position on the task and finish group as a member, purely as it does not alter any of the work the task and finish group could produce and could bring council into disrepute if I did not.

“But I am going to finish my dispute to try to get local councillors to be able to represent their residents. It should be down to a councillor to make their own decision on interests and it does not just affect me, but other members.”

The row stems from Mr Hart previously declaring an interest during a vote on the plan. He made councillors aware his home in Daws Heath Road was next to 72-acres of green belt, which has been earmarked for 430 homes, and then took no part in the meeting.

The land east of Rayleigh Road is one of 13 key sites in the local plan.

A council report ahead of tonight’s full council meeting said: “Following the (cabinet) meeting attention was drawn to the nomination of councillor Hart to serve on the task and finish group. For the reasons under the legal implications of this report councillor Hart is not eligible to serve on the task and finish group.

“Members who have disclosable pecuniary interests are unable to be member of or take part in the deliberations of the group on the new local plan.”

There is further concern that as founder supporter of the Save Our Green Belt Group, members of the public would believe this would prejudice his judgment during the discussions.

The report reminded councillors it is a criminal offence to fail to disclose interests and take part in votes they should be disbarred from, with a maximum fine of £5,000 and a possible fiveyear ban from being a member.

The council will now hold a meeting with Mr Hart to “discuss this appointment and his disclosable pecuniary interest arising from his home address adjoining a housing site at land east of Rayleigh Road.” Council monitoring officer AndrewRoby- Smith told the Echo: “It has been made clear to councillor Hart his disclosable interest means he is not able to take part in this committee.”

Comments (13)

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4:07pm Wed 23 Jul 14

paulatepc says...

Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?
Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood? paulatepc
  • Score: 6

4:12pm Wed 23 Jul 14

alarminstaller says...

Do the right thing Sir!!
Do the right thing Sir!! alarminstaller
  • Score: 0

9:55pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Jack222 says...

Fair enough - he has a monetary interest in the argument he should not be part of it. Development will impact on the value of his house one way or another. What doesn't the Tory Councillor understand?
Fair enough - he has a monetary interest in the argument he should not be part of it. Development will impact on the value of his house one way or another. What doesn't the Tory Councillor understand? Jack222
  • Score: 2

10:03pm Wed 23 Jul 14

ORACUS says...

Most MPs own more than one property the current property bubble if caused by the open door policy with eastern Europe.
If we shut the door or leave the EU they lose wads of cash the stench of corruption.
When will they do the honourable thing?
Most MPs own more than one property the current property bubble if caused by the open door policy with eastern Europe. If we shut the door or leave the EU they lose wads of cash the stench of corruption. When will they do the honourable thing? ORACUS
  • Score: 2

10:07pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Howard Cháse says...

I'm only here for the beer (and pies)

Oh sorry, thought it was a caption competition
I'm only here for the beer (and pies) Oh sorry, thought it was a caption competition Howard Cháse
  • Score: 2

12:05am Thu 24 Jul 14

Sim0n says...

What I actually said is below, and the actual number of homes to be built in Castle Point over the next 20 years is yet to be decided the 200 per year in the "Draft "Local Plan and that is what the Task and Finish group was going to discuss and possibly adjust the Draft local Plan to consider the consultation sent to every home in the Borough. Also to be considered is the information from an inspectors visit and the recommendations from a Government Minister Nick Boles.
Here is my statement I made tonight
Dear Madame Mayor , fellow members of Castle Point Borough Council,
I would like to announce here tonight at full Council that after weeks of discussion with the Monitoring officer over interests and the Localism Act without reaching an agreement between us, and with my outstanding legal and political advice , I find my self in the position where I am forced to ask the Leader of this Council Colin Riley to remove me from the Task and Finish group before it's first scheduled meeting for the benefit of the Borough and any new Local Plan.

I take my position as Councillor of this borough and of Victoria Ward very seriously and act with out pre determination and consider all matters on their merits as they arise. I am in full support of the Localism Act that recommends local people should represent local people and take responsibility for their own interests, but as I have already said In this case I withdraw my position from the Task and Finish Group on the Local Plan for the sake of this Council and the validity of any resulting Local Plan.
I will how ever continue to question the interpretation of the legislation which prohibits Cllrs from all sides of the chamber in representing their residents .
What I actually said is below, and the actual number of homes to be built in Castle Point over the next 20 years is yet to be decided the 200 per year in the "Draft "Local Plan and that is what the Task and Finish group was going to discuss and possibly adjust the Draft local Plan to consider the consultation sent to every home in the Borough. Also to be considered is the information from an inspectors visit and the recommendations from a Government Minister Nick Boles. Here is my statement I made tonight Dear Madame Mayor , fellow members of Castle Point Borough Council, I would like to announce here tonight at full Council that after weeks of discussion with the Monitoring officer over interests and the Localism Act without reaching an agreement between us, and with my outstanding legal and political advice , I find my self in the position where I am forced to ask the Leader of this Council Colin Riley to remove me from the Task and Finish group before it's first scheduled meeting for the benefit of the Borough and any new Local Plan. I take my position as Councillor of this borough and of Victoria Ward very seriously and act with out pre determination and consider all matters on their merits as they arise. I am in full support of the Localism Act that recommends local people should represent local people and take responsibility for their own interests, but as I have already said In this case I withdraw my position from the Task and Finish Group on the Local Plan for the sake of this Council and the validity of any resulting Local Plan. I will how ever continue to question the interpretation of the legislation which prohibits Cllrs from all sides of the chamber in representing their residents . Sim0n
  • Score: 1

12:08am Thu 24 Jul 14

Sim0n says...

Sim0n wrote:
What I actually said is below, and the actual number of homes to be built in Castle Point over the next 20 years is yet to be decided the 200 per year in the "Draft "Local Plan and that is what the Task and Finish group was going to discuss and possibly adjust the Draft local Plan to consider the consultation sent to every home in the Borough. Also to be considered is the information from an inspectors visit and the recommendations from a Government Minister Nick Boles.
Here is my statement I made tonight
Dear Madame Mayor , fellow members of Castle Point Borough Council,
I would like to announce here tonight at full Council that after weeks of discussion with the Monitoring officer over interests and the Localism Act without reaching an agreement between us, and with my outstanding legal and political advice , I find my self in the position where I am forced to ask the Leader of this Council Colin Riley to remove me from the Task and Finish group before it's first scheduled meeting for the benefit of the Borough and any new Local Plan.

I take my position as Councillor of this borough and of Victoria Ward very seriously and act with out pre determination and consider all matters on their merits as they arise. I am in full support of the Localism Act that recommends local people should represent local people and take responsibility for their own interests, but as I have already said In this case I withdraw my position from the Task and Finish Group on the Local Plan for the sake of this Council and the validity of any resulting Local Plan.
I will how ever continue to question the interpretation of the legislation which prohibits Cllrs from all sides of the chamber in representing their residents .
Oh and I was not going to be banned, if I had not of stood down
[quote][p][bold]Sim0n[/bold] wrote: What I actually said is below, and the actual number of homes to be built in Castle Point over the next 20 years is yet to be decided the 200 per year in the "Draft "Local Plan and that is what the Task and Finish group was going to discuss and possibly adjust the Draft local Plan to consider the consultation sent to every home in the Borough. Also to be considered is the information from an inspectors visit and the recommendations from a Government Minister Nick Boles. Here is my statement I made tonight Dear Madame Mayor , fellow members of Castle Point Borough Council, I would like to announce here tonight at full Council that after weeks of discussion with the Monitoring officer over interests and the Localism Act without reaching an agreement between us, and with my outstanding legal and political advice , I find my self in the position where I am forced to ask the Leader of this Council Colin Riley to remove me from the Task and Finish group before it's first scheduled meeting for the benefit of the Borough and any new Local Plan. I take my position as Councillor of this borough and of Victoria Ward very seriously and act with out pre determination and consider all matters on their merits as they arise. I am in full support of the Localism Act that recommends local people should represent local people and take responsibility for their own interests, but as I have already said In this case I withdraw my position from the Task and Finish Group on the Local Plan for the sake of this Council and the validity of any resulting Local Plan. I will how ever continue to question the interpretation of the legislation which prohibits Cllrs from all sides of the chamber in representing their residents .[/p][/quote]Oh and I was not going to be banned, if I had not of stood down Sim0n
  • Score: 0

12:10am Thu 24 Jul 14

Sim0n says...

paulatepc wrote:
Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?
The site in question has no planning application submitted !
[quote][p][bold]paulatepc[/bold] wrote: Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?[/p][/quote]The site in question has no planning application submitted ! Sim0n
  • Score: 0

12:13am Thu 24 Jul 14

Sim0n says...

Jack222 wrote:
Fair enough - he has a monetary interest in the argument he should not be part of it. Development will impact on the value of his house one way or another. What doesn't the Tory Councillor understand?
I do not understand the monitoring officer ignoring the Localism Act, which combined with the abolition of the Standards Committee it was meant to allow Councillors to represent their residents
[quote][p][bold]Jack222[/bold] wrote: Fair enough - he has a monetary interest in the argument he should not be part of it. Development will impact on the value of his house one way or another. What doesn't the Tory Councillor understand?[/p][/quote]I do not understand the monitoring officer ignoring the Localism Act, which combined with the abolition of the Standards Committee it was meant to allow Councillors to represent their residents Sim0n
  • Score: 0

8:50am Thu 24 Jul 14

paulatepc says...

Sim0n wrote:
paulatepc wrote:
Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?
The site in question has no planning application submitted !
...not yet - only a matter of time if the site is declared "no special value" as green belt" (no rare insects) by a "special study" as part of the proposed central government sponsored building expansion around London...
[quote][p][bold]Sim0n[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]paulatepc[/bold] wrote: Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?[/p][/quote]The site in question has no planning application submitted ![/p][/quote]...not yet - only a matter of time if the site is declared "no special value" as green belt" (no rare insects) by a "special study" as part of the proposed central government sponsored building expansion around London... paulatepc
  • Score: 0

12:02pm Thu 24 Jul 14

burghcastle says...

I

see the village Villain's are still going strong!
I see the village Villain's are still going strong! burghcastle
  • Score: 0

2:05pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Sim0n says...

paulatepc wrote:
Sim0n wrote:
paulatepc wrote:
Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?
The site in question has no planning application submitted !
...not yet - only a matter of time if the site is declared "no special value" as green belt" (no rare insects) by a "special study" as part of the proposed central government sponsored building expansion around London...
Not true Paul
there are other reasons for Greenbelt to be retained and previously part of this site behind Fords was subject to a planning application that was rejected and wasthen apealled but the inspector said it should be preserved as Green Belt
[quote][p][bold]paulatepc[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sim0n[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]paulatepc[/bold] wrote: Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?[/p][/quote]The site in question has no planning application submitted ![/p][/quote]...not yet - only a matter of time if the site is declared "no special value" as green belt" (no rare insects) by a "special study" as part of the proposed central government sponsored building expansion around London...[/p][/quote]Not true Paul there are other reasons for Greenbelt to be retained and previously part of this site behind Fords was subject to a planning application that was rejected and wasthen apealled but the inspector said it should be preserved as Green Belt Sim0n
  • Score: 0

3:55pm Thu 24 Jul 14

paulatepc says...

Sim0n wrote:
paulatepc wrote:
Sim0n wrote:
paulatepc wrote:
Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?
The site in question has no planning application submitted !
...not yet - only a matter of time if the site is declared "no special value" as green belt" (no rare insects) by a "special study" as part of the proposed central government sponsored building expansion around London...
Not true Paul
there are other reasons for Greenbelt to be retained and previously part of this site behind Fords was subject to a planning application that was rejected and wasthen apealled but the inspector said it should be preserved as Green Belt
...very very pleased to hear this - maybe commonsense and long term issues are being addressed; hope the same happens near us...where the "study" has dismissed huge areas of green belt and the developers are moving in..
[quote][p][bold]Sim0n[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]paulatepc[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sim0n[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]paulatepc[/bold] wrote: Did I get this right? He wants to preserve Green Belt (ie NOT to develop the site) yet he is suspected of having a pecuniary interest? There would only be pecuniary interest if the site were developed; or have I misunderstood?[/p][/quote]The site in question has no planning application submitted ![/p][/quote]...not yet - only a matter of time if the site is declared "no special value" as green belt" (no rare insects) by a "special study" as part of the proposed central government sponsored building expansion around London...[/p][/quote]Not true Paul there are other reasons for Greenbelt to be retained and previously part of this site behind Fords was subject to a planning application that was rejected and wasthen apealled but the inspector said it should be preserved as Green Belt[/p][/quote]...very very pleased to hear this - maybe commonsense and long term issues are being addressed; hope the same happens near us...where the "study" has dismissed huge areas of green belt and the developers are moving in.. paulatepc
  • Score: 0

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