• Brown considering resigning

    12th March 2013 | News | Claire
  • A councillor filmed offering his services as a consultant to help developers get planning approval has been suspended by his party group.

    Yesterday afternoon, East Devon District Council’s Conservative group said it had both suspended Graham Brown from the group and removed him from his post as Member Champion for Business and Tourism on the Tory-run council’s cabinet.

    East Devon District Council has also said it will investigate the behaviour of Brown, to see if any wrongdoing took place.

    Brown, who runs consultancy Greygreen Planning from his home in Ottery St Mary, was filmed during an undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph.

    The Conservative member, who is not a member of the council’s planning committee, told a reporter posing as developer that he could help with getting planning approval for applications in the area and has “access to all the right people”.

    He told the reporter: “If I can’t get planning, nobody will.”

    Paul Diviani, the Tory council leader, said: “I and other members feel that councillor Brown has brought himself, the party and council in to disrepute with his comments, and even though his interest as a planning consultant has been declared, this does not excuse the remarks he made.”

    Diviani said he would also “seek a resolution from members” to remove Brown from the East Devon Conservative Group at its next meeting on March 20 though it had no authority to remove him from the party completely.

    He added: “Whilst there is no immediate evidence of councillor Brown exerting any improper influence on planning decisions; with his claims he has tarred the council, its staff and other members with the same unpleasant brush”.

    A council spokesman said: “We are not aware of councillor Brown having any improper influence on the planning process and he has declared his interest as a professional planning consultant.”

    But the spokesman said the council would examine the allegations against Brown to see if there was any breach of its code of conduct.

    Speaking about his suspension, Brown told Planning: “I’ve been dealt with pretty harshly. The Telegraph article spun around things that I said.”

    Brown said though he is not a chartered town planner, he employs one, adding: “We just make sure we unravel the mysteries of putting in a planning application.

    “There’s absolutely no collusion or attempted collusion with the council. We leave all decisions to the democratic process.

    “I keep my council work and consultancy work completely separate. There’s been absolutely no wrongdoing.”

    Brown said he was considering resigning as a councillor because of what had happened but he said his business would continue.