The Isle of Wight Council leader, Cllr David Pugh, has defended his job with a Surrey-based lobbying firm, which counts among its clients the company which wanted to build a wind farm at Wellow.
Cllr Pugh denied there was any conflict of interest between his part-time post as account director with communications firm, Cratus, which has recently taken on lobbying for the Ecoisland project on a pro bono basis, and also has links with Infinergy, the firm behind the failed Wellow Wind Farm proposal.
The issue was due to be raised by Independent councillor for St Helens, Cllr Jonathan Bacon, at last month’s meeting of the full council.
However, his question about Cllr Pugh’s interests was ruled inadmissible by officers on the grounds it was not related to the Isle of Wight Council’s policies or its budget.
Cllr Bacon said: “I submitted my question in good faith, out of concern for what seems to be a potential conflict of interest between David Pugh’s role as leader of the council and his employment with a media communications company that appears to be connected with a number of controversial projects on the Island.
“I was surprised the question was rejected as it would seem to me an important question of policy what activities senior members of the council can acceptably engage in.”
Cllr Pugh said: “I do work for the firm, which has a wide range of clients. I do work on education and political campaigning, none of which relates to the Isle of Wight.
“I have always complied with the code of conduct and never have been in breach of it.
“If anyone feels there is a breach, they can make a complaint and follow it through.”
Nick Kilby, a partner at Cratus, confirmed Cllr Pugh’s only work with the company related to education and political campaigning.
He said: “Infinergy has no work on the Isle of Wight which we are connected with any more. The only people we would help are Ecoisland on a pro bono basis.”
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