A northumberland councillor has been found guilty of breaching the code of conduct after he failed to declare an interest in a discussion about wind farms.
Kirkwhelpington parish councillor John Anderson, who owns the Little Harle estate, failed to leave the room during a discussion at a meeting last October about the Banks group proposal for a wind farm on his land.
Resident William Short brought the matter to the attention of the Standard’s Board for England and the final report, prepared by Helen Lancaster, of Castle Morpeth Borough Council, will be presented to Tynedale Council on Monday.
Mr Short alleged that at the meeting of Kirkwhelpington Parish Council, Coun Anderson did not declare an interest at the right time and, when he did, remained in the room and listened to the discussion.
The report states that five of the wind turbines proposed by Banks, which appear on an information booklet produced by the company, appear on land owned by Coun Anderson. These proposals were discussed at the meeting along with two applications for wind monitoring masts which were not on Coun Anderson’s land.
However, Coun Anderson’s land agent told the investigation that although he had been in discussions with Banks, Coun Anderson had refused their offer.
Despite this Banks had included his land on the information leaflet.They later apologised for this.
Coun Anderson has confirmed that he has an agreement with npower about the possibility of a wind farm on his land, but said that because it was not npower being discussed he did not feel it was necessary to leave the meeting. He added that he did eventually declare an interest and although he stayed in the room he did not take part in the discussion.
Mrs Lancaster, legal and scrutiny officer with Castle Morpeth, said she believed he had a personal interest which he did not declare at the right time and was therefore in breach of the code of conduct.
Coun Anderson now leaves the room when wind farms are discussed.
Garry Pointer, Tynedale’s Director of Legal and Democratic Services said: “On Monday the Standards Board will decide whether it accepts the content of the report, and whether there has been a breach of the code of conduct.”
By Hayley Beattie, The Journal
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