Aylesbury Vale District Council’s most complained about councillor revealed

Councillor Janet Blake
Councillor Janet Blake

Councillors’ behaviour was a hot topic of debate for the district this week - as it was revealed that cabinet member and leader’s wife Janet Blake was the most complained about councillor of the year.

Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) discussed the personal conduct and standards of their councillors last week, as they look to amend their codes after several infringements in 2017.

Earlier this year an investigation revealed that Mrs Blake voted on and debated in favour of planning applications relating to Rectory Homes - a developer she had invested in.

The news was picked up by a number of news outlets both locally and nationally - with political magazine Private Eye featuring Mrs Blake’s story in their Rotten Boroughs coverage.

Mrs Blake refused to resign and has continued in her post as cabinet member for business transformation.

The council held an investigation and found the situation was a breach of the code, no further action was taken.

This newspaper repeatedly called for Mrs Blake to resign over the matter.

Since June, 2017, the Lead Legal and Monitoring Officer has received eight complaints relating to alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by town and parish councillors.

Five of these complaints are against Mrs Blake and relate to the findings of our investigation.

Anders Christensen, Liberal Democrat said in the meeting: “What I can tell from the report is that 57 understand the code of conduct and have good standards of behaviour, one complaint is outstanding and one of us broken the code of conduct five times without any recourse or punishment or anything, really.

“Until the code of conduct is changed, what’s the point?”

In Cllr Anders Christensen’s formal complaint, he wrote: “I am afraid that Cllr Blake’s ‘Sorry, I wont do it again’ is nowhere near good enough and just demonstrates an utter disregard to conflicts of interest, the council’s reputation, and the need for all councillors to be held accountable for breaches of the code.”

Anders said: “As councillors we are all expected to uphold standards in public life.

“The reality is that while we are all normal residents in our communities we are held to a higher standard.

“That is made clear to all councillors who are elected by the Code of Conduct.

“What has become clear is that the code of conduct is not only toothless but also, as a result, somewhat pointless.

“Councillors can in effect do as they please without fear of repercussions from the council.

“It is down to an individual’s conscience or their party to hold them to account.

“If neither councillor or party can tell right from wrong and does nothing, as we have seen recently, that’s the end of it.

“At least until election time and we have all seen how the public responded in the recent elections.”