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Member can join wind farm talk

A Shropshire councillor caught up in a legal wrangle over his right to speak about a controversial multi-million pound wind farm will get to have his say.

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson called a special meeting at the House of Commons with two bosses of the Standards Board for England – the body which makes and monitors the rules on what councillors can and cannot speak about.

He discussed the case of North Shropshire district councillor Mike Brassington, who was accused of acting improperly when plans for a 200ft wind mast near Market Drayton went before the council’s development control committee this year.

The allegation centred around his decision not to speak at the meeting, of which he was chairman, and the Standards Board has declined to investigate the complaint.

The MP said today Mr Brassington will get to speak on the issue under a new code of conduct being drafted in by the Standards Board. He had been gagged by the organisation’s previous code of conduct.

He said: “The new code of conduct which came in in May and will be compulsory for all councils from October 6 has changed things.

“Even if you are proposing an extension of your house you can speak now.

“Mike Brassington has been put in a very difficult position because up to now he cannot say anything and people are making assumptions about what he believes.”

Rian Huxley, spokeswoman for North Shropshire District Council, said: “We will be adhering to the Standards Board’s changes.”

The Shropshire Star

7 September 2007