Aylesbury Vale District Council’s Monitoring Officer has found that four recent complaints, against Cllr Janet Blake, Cabinet Member for Commercialisation and Business Transformation, confirm a breach of the council’s Code of Conduct.
The complaints allege Cllr Blake failed to declare a personal interest of bonds held in the property company Rectory Homes, before planning committee meetings where she voted to support officer recommendations approving planning applications from the same company.
The complaint has been considered by AVDC’s Monitoring Officer, in accordance with the authority’s councillor complaints procedure. In assessing the case, it was disclosed that Cllr Blake had been given correct advice that her bonds, which amount to a £2,000 investment, did not constitute a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) and so did not need to be entered into the Members’ Register of Interests. Despite this advice, Cllr Blake registered the bonds, and stated she had volunteered this information for reasons of transparency.
However, it was found that, while the bonds did not constitute a DPI, they were in fact a “personal interest” which should have been declared before each planning committee meeting, concerning Rectory Homes. In failing to declare them, it was found that Cllr Blake had breached AVDC’s Code of Conduct.
Ifty Ali, AVDC’s Monitoring Officer said: “Having consulted the Chairman of the Standards Committee and a duly appointed independent person, I have decided that the alleged complaint does disclose a breach of the Council’s Code of Conduct but that there would be no public benefit in investigating this matter as it is difficult to see how an investigation would come to any different conclusion after having expended public resources.
“I am writing to Cllr Janet Blake, in relation to her conduct, drawing attention, in particular, to the need to consider carefully her position should a similar situation arise.
“Whilst I am satisfied that our policies successfully support councillors in their roles, I have already instigated a programme of refresher training on the Code of Conduct, so that all members are completely clear.”