This newspaper has become aware of a serious breach of Bucks County Council's code of conduct, putting at risk in excess of £20m worth of income, without any disciplinary action being taken by the council.
Conservative Party councillor Luisa Sullivan from Iver was the subject of a report by Bucks County Council's (BCC) monitoring officer, alleging that the councillor had knowingly revealed confidential information to the public, including being a party to its publication on social media.
The council had previously signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
The confidential information related to a potential £20m development in Richings Park in Iver with an associated profit share. The council could also have been liable for abortive costs incurred by the developer if found to be in breach of the NDA.
A source from a neighbouring council said:
“Anywhere that there's been a serious breach of the code of conduct it's incumbent upon the council as a public body to make sure that it's investigated properly and adequate steps are taken to deal with those who are responsible to prevent it from happening again.”
After their own investigation, the Conservative Party Group did recommend a suspension from their group for six months.
We asked the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government about disciplinary procedures and they sent the following information:
“The Localism Act 2011 put in place a robust framework for local authority standards arrangements.
“Every local authority is required to adopt a code of conduct for council members. It is for each local authority to determine the contents of their code, although any code must conform to the seven ‘Nolan’ principles of standards in public life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
“This requires councils to put in place procedures for considering complaints where members have breached the code of conduct, including appointing an independent person to advise the council before it decides on an allegation.
“If a member is found to have failed to comply with their authority’s code of conduct, an authority may censure that member, and remove any portfolio responsibilities, representation of outside bodies etc. as appropriate.”
A spokesperson for Bucks County Council provided the following statement:
“It’s important that high standards in public office are continuously maintained and therefore we take any allegations of possible breaches of our code of conduct extremely seriously. Any allegations are dealt with according to our published processes. I can confirm, on behalf of the council, that there is no outstanding case against Mrs Sullivan.”
We approached Councillor Sullivan for her side of the story but she informed us that she has been told by BCCs communication team not to talk to the press.