Venue: Conference Room, Camberley Theatre, Knoll Road, Camberley, GU15 3SY. View directions
Contact: Katharine Simpson 01276 707157
Appointment of Chairman
RESOLVED that Councillor Bates be elected chairman of the hearing.
COUNCILLOR BATES IN THE CHAIR
Declarations of Interest
Members are invited to declare any interests they may have with respect to matters which are to be considered at the meeting. Members who consider that they may have an interest are invited to consult the Monitoring Officer or Democratic Services Officer prior to the meeting.
Councillor Bates informed the Sub Committee that he had been employed by Guildford Borough Council at the same time as the independent investigator (some 8 years ago) but had not worked with him as they were in different departments.
Councillor Hawkins informed the Sub Committee that he had chaired the meeting of the Planning Applications Committee concerned.
Councillor Ilnicki informed the Sub Committee that he had attended and participated in the meeting of the Planning Applications Committee concerned.
Exclusion of Public and Press
The Committee is advised to resolve that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the ground that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, as set out below:
1. Information relating to any individual
It was agreed that given the nature of the complaint and in the interest of transparency and accountability the public and press would not be excluded from the hearing.
Investigation of a Potential Breach of the Code of Conduct
To consider a report setting out the outcomes of an investigation of a complaint about a potential breach of the Code of Conduct carried out by the Independent Person.
· Surrey Heath Borough Council Constitution Part D – Arrangements for dealing with allegations of misconduct under Section 28 Localism Act 2011
· Report of the Independent Person
The Sub Committee was informed that the hearing had been convened to consider the report of the Independent Investigator following the investigation of a complaint submitted to the Monitoring Officer by Mr A, on behalf of clients Mrs B and her Mother, following their dealings with Councillor Gandhum and to agree an appropriate course of action.
The Sub Committee was advised that it was the Complainants’ contention that Councillor Gandhum had acted improperly as a councillor, failed to declare relevant interests at a meeting of Windlesham Parish Council and called in the Complainants’ planning application in an attempt to undermine its proper determination with a view to frustrating them into selling their land to him. It was also alleged that Councillor Gandhum had sought to pressurise the Complainants into selling their property to him whilst at the same time working to undermine the chances of their planning application being approved.
As the Independent Investigator assigned to investigate the complaint, Richard Lingard had met and interviewed the complainants, the complainant’s agent and Councillor Gandhum.
The Sub-Committee carefully considered all the information presented, both written and oral, from:
· the Independent Investigator;
· the Monitoring Officer
· together with reference to the Council’s Constitution and Code of Conduct and Windlesham Parish Council’s Code of Conduct
The Sub Committee noted that a copy of the Independent Investigator’s draft report had been sent to all parties for comment. Responses from the complainant’s had been incorporated into the report and Councillor Gandhum had advised the Investigator that he had no comment to make on the report. It was noted that extensive efforts had been made to ensure that Councillor Gandhum was aware of the hearing and his right to be present to present his side of the case. However, no response had been received and given the seriousness of the allegations it had been agreed that the hearing would be held in his absence.
The Sub Committee noted the concerns raised including:
· The failure to declare an interest during Windlesham Parish Council’s Planning meeting.
· Councillor Gandhum’s denial of any knowledge of who had called in the Complainant’s’ planning application when it was a matter of public record that it was he who had done so.
· The inappropriate and unprofessional manner displayed by Councillor Gandhum towards the Complainants’ agent and his implication that the Complainants were only repeating what their agent had told them to say.
· The hand written note given to the Complainants by Councillor Gandhum clearly implied that he was interested in purchasing land from the complainants.
The Sub-Committee also took note of the fact that;
· In addition to the Call-In request, only one other representation had been received in relation to the Complainants’ planning application.
· Although the Call-in request had not referenced a specific planning reason this had not been a requirement at the time the request had been made.
· Although Councillor Gandhum had attended the Planning Applications Committee meeting in December 2018, he had not been in attendance when the Committee considered the Complainants’ planning ... view the full minutes text for item 4.