• Wrongly accused in public. Exonerated in private

    1st April 2014 | News | Claire
  • Here’s the story – http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/East-Devon-District-Council-officer-issues/story-20886649-detail/story.html …………………………………………

    THE monitoring officer at East Devon District Council has issued a response to whether an Ottery St Mary town councillor was guilty of a breach in confidence – but has not revealed whether the councillor was guilty or not.

    At the full council meeting of Ottery St Mary in December, a majority voted that independent ward member of 22 years, Councillor Roger Giles was guilty of divulging information deemed confidential.

    The matter related to a planing meeting held on November 18, when councillors agreed that information about a developer’s interest in building on land at West Hill should be kept confidential.

    Following the planning meeting Cllr Giles informed district and county ward member, Cllr Claire Wright about the town council’s plans to meet with the developer in private.

    This information was deemed confidential by fellow town councillors.

    Cllr Giles has remained adamant that councillors should not be discussing plans for development in private.

    In total, 24 complaints were received by the monitoring officer in relation to the meeting – 10 questioned the way the council operates and 14 related to various councillors’ actions.

    The district council has refused to comment on whether the monitoring officer concluded that Cllr Giles was guilty or not.

    However, it is understood that in a five page confidential report sent to the complainants, the officer ruled that the information Cllr Giles passed on was not “confidential” – and therefore he was innocent.

    Furthermore, no recommendations were made by the officer for Cllr Giles to abide by.

    But a series of considerations were made for the town council including: officer training and mentoring support in council “administration and process” for all staff tasked with supporting the town council; training in relation to the chairing of meetings for all members who hold this position; assertiveness/team building training for the whole council in order to set ground rules for behaviour during meetings.

    She added: “I am concerned that the future democratic health of the council depends on respectful relationships. A clear focus on well managed debate that encourages active listening and fair comment is key to bringing about change.”

    Cllr Giles, added: “I’ve been wrongly accused in public but exonerated in private, it’s a disgrace, absolutely deplorable.

    “All the town council has got is a slap on the wrist.”