• More rows at Ottery Town Council over Persimmon meeting

    6th January 2014 | News | Claire
  • Around 20 members of the public were at the meeting, as well as two press reporters – some people had to sit in the room next door as there wasn’t enough space for everyone.

    Cllr Giles told the meeting that the term “Cllr X” was not correct to be used in the minutes because the allegations against him for breaching confidentiality had been made in the public domain.

    Cllr Giles read out some proposed changes to the draft minute, including that he had said at the meeting that he had not divulged confidential information… because a meeting taking place with Persimmon was not confidential information.  He also pointed out that his proposal to allow me to speak was seconded by Cllr Jess Bailey.

    He read out an alternative paragraph, which he said was a fair and accurate account of the meeting.

    Town clerk, Judith Reynolds, said that she had taken advice from EDDC’s monitoring officer who said she should “depersonalise” the minutes and allegations.

    Cllr Paul Lewis agreed that the term “Cllr X” was not appropriate. He asked that a further sentence be added to the minutes, that Cllr Giles had phoned me the night of the meeting of 18 November, to inform me that a meeting was to take place between Ottery Town Council and Persimmon. This was the part of the breach of confidentiality, Cllr Lewis said, and should be recorded in the minutes.

    Cllr Jessica Bailey said what had happened at the town council meeting on 2 December was wrong, but she thought the term “Cllr X” was appropriate. The minutes should state that the councillor had been named in the meeting, she added.

    Cllr Paul Carter said the matter was a breach of confidentiality and the discussion was in “part b.”  He said it was an “open and shut case.”

    Cllr Giles interjected that this was “total nonsense” and repeated his defence that there was nothing on the agenda that state that the press and public were going to be excluded. This was not proper procedure.

    “I did not reveal confidential information – no way in the world was it confidential information,” Cllr Giles emphasised, to the sound of chortling from some members of the council.

    Cllr Bailey said:  “The fact that a developer had approached EDDC for pre-application advice is a matter of public record. It could not have been confidential information.”

    Mayor, Cllr Glyn Dobson said that a meeting with EDDC’s monitoring officer on Wednesday would settle the issue, adding:  “I did say twice in the meeting that the information was confidential.”

    Cllr Dobson added that people were “getting emotional” about the fact that the council had met with a developer and complaints received had virtually all started off with saying the town council shouldn’t meet developers in private.

    Someone asked how many complaints had been received but the mayor said he didn’t know and referred the question to the clerk. The clerk said she wasn’t sure either.

    The mayor added that there were formal complaints against the town council and also against Cllr Giles.

    Cllr Dobson then told the meeting that Cllr Giles had met with developers privately himself. 

    Cllr Giles angrily demanded Cllr Dobson retract the statement as it was damaging and untrue. He said he had never met a developer privately, ever, in 20 years of him being a councillor. 

    Cllr Dobson refused to withdraw the remark, adding: “And he didn’t update the town council, the other EDDC ward member did,” (presumably referring to Cllr David Cox, the other Ottery town ward member).

    Cllr Giles looked confused and asked whether he was referring to a meeting with an officer present (which is a formal meeting and an entirely different matter). (Very occasionally, EDDC councillors are asked to attend meetings with planning officers and developers, if for example an application is very large or very complicated). 

    This is not the same thing as having a developer ring a council and asking for a private meeting with councillors only present.  I loudly said that this was not the same thing at all.

    Cllr Giles pointed out that a smirking Cllr Paul Carter seemed to think the “whole thing is a big joke.”

    A very angry Cllr Giles suggested that Mayor Dobson might like to resign. Mayor Dobson replied that if there was anyone who should resign it should be Cllr Giles.

    Again, incredulous that yet more unfounded allegations were being levelled at Cllr Giles, I couldn’t help butting in (no longer a member of Ottery Town Council) I asked why Cllr Giles kept being attacked for being a good councillor and simply pointing out things that he thought was wrong.

    Mayor Dobson replied that I was not entitled to speak because I was “not part of the meeting.”

    During public questions Ottery resident, Chris Wakefield asked whether notes would be taken of the meeting between the town council and EDDC’s monitoring officer on Wednesday (8 January).

    The reply was that there probably would be notes taken, but it wasn’t the town council’s meeting.

    I hope that the notes will be made public. They certainly should be, given that the allegations were made very much in public.