Members of the East Devon Business Forum have decided not to disband the group.

Roy Stuart, vice chairman of the forum called for members to decide at its meeting, held on Wednesday, March 20, whether to disband the group or continue with an amended constitution after the chief executive of East Devon District Council, Mark Williams ruled that the Local Authority would no longer provide financial or officer support to the group.

The forum was set up to “improve communication” between businesses and the district council, to meet and agree, “so far as possible”, a common approach. It received around £5,200 of financial support a year, by means of officer support, from the council.

Mr Williams made the ruling after the furore surrounding its former chairman, former councillor Graham Brown.

Mr Brown, who owns a planning consultancy business, resigned as ward member for Feniton and Buckerell and as the chairman of the forum after he was secretly filmed boasting, that in his role as a planning consultant, he could secure planning permission for a fee.

However he maintains that he did not believe there was a conflict of interest between his professional work and his role as a councillor.

Mr Stuart said that businesses had agreed at the special meeting to discuss the issue, that they wished to continue with the Forum. However he said that the consitution would have to be amended in light of the withdrawal of officer support.

He also said that it was “probable” that it would be written into the constitution that the new chairman, who has not yet been selected, should not be a serving councillor.