Monday, 23 October 2017

Councillor denies any interest in new homes

A PARISH councillor has denied having a financial interest in a housing development in Benson.

A PARISH councillor has denied having a financial interest in a housing development in Benson.

Councillor Michael Winton spoke out after being excluded from a discussion on a planning application for a site in Littleworth Road in March..

He told a council meeting discussing the minutes of that meeting that what had been said was “a load of rubbish”.

Cllr Winton was warned by council vice-chairman Jon Fowler to “be careful” with his language, saying it wasn’t conducive to healthy debate.

Councillors should make any declarations of interest at the start of meetings.



But Cllr Winton, who lives in Oxford Road, said he had been wrongly accused of having a pecuniary interest in the development.

“I’ve got no financial interest at all with anything that went on in Littleworth Road,” he said.

Chairwoman Pat Peers said the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils had advised her that if a councillor’s property was next to a development, they should declare an interest.

“They said it’s a pecuniary interest because it can affect the value of the property,” she said. “If you don’t declare a pecuniary interest, it’s a criminal offence.”

Cllr Winton, who also sits on the Benson neighbourhood plan team, said South Oxfordshire District Council had advised him that he didn’t have to declare an interest.

He said he had pointed out where his home was and where the development was, adding: “They said ‘you’re okay’ basically.”

Cllr Fowler said it was a case of whether a “reasonable” and “fair-minded” member of the public would interpret a decision as being biased.

Cllr Peers said the association should be consulted again and the council agreed to defer approval of the minutes until the next meeting.



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