Agenda and minutes
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ELECTION OF CHAIR
Councillor Paul Douglas was elected as Chair for the meeting.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members are required to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests they or their spouse/partner may have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting. Interests are defined on the inside cover of this agenda.
There were no declarations of interest.
Investigating Officer’s Presentation
The Investigating Officer presented her report and the supporting evidence. She said that she found no evidence to suggest that any “deals” or agreements been reached in respect of any planning decision made by the Committee. No witnesses were called by the Investigating Officer.
Questions from the Sub-Committee
In response to a question from Councillor Walker, it was confirmed that only Councillor Barnett had witnessed nodding or gesturing by Councillor Akram. The Investigating Officer added that the allegation about eye contact had not been verified by any other Member or officers.
Complainant’s case (Councillor Barnett)
Councillor Barnett presented his case and stated that he accepted the findings of the Investigation Report. He acknowledged that he was a witness only to allegation 3. He asked the Panel to rely on the evidence of Councillor Akram to prove his allegations. In respect of allegations 1 and 2, Councillor Barnett said that Councillor Akram had admitted that the discussions took place. Councillor Barnett submitted that it was inappropriate for a group whip to discuss planning applications with any member of the Planning Committee in any circumstances. In respect of allegation 3, he confirmed that he witnessed Councillor Akram gesturing to Councillors Bellamy and Vincent. In respect of allegation 4, he said that, on the balance of probabilities, the text was an attempt to influence Councillor Bellamy’s vote. In respect of allegation 5, he relied on the evidence of Councillor Vincent that Councillor Akram had claimed a “deal” had been done. Councillor Barnett stated that he had never made any agreement or deal to determine a planning application. No witnesses were called by Councillor Barnett.
Questions to Councillor Barnett
Councillor Akram, noting that Councillor Barnett in his interview with the Investigating Officer had implied that he had been “bullying and pressuring” Councillor Bellamy, asked why Councillor Barnett, as Chair of the Planning Committee, had not publicly asked Councillor Akram to withdraw from the meeting if he felt that Councillor Akram were pressuring Members. Councillor Barnett, in response, stated he was aware of Councillor Akram’s eye contact with members of the Planning Committee, and that he thought something was “going on”.
The Chair asked Councillor Barnet if he “had it in for Councillor Akram,” as alleged by Councillor Akram. Councillor Barnett responded that he was disappointed this had been said and that this was not the case; however, he stated that he was upset by any apparent attempt to influence the planning process.
Respondent’s case (Councillor Akram)
Councillor Akram presented his response to the allegations. He said that there was insufficient evidence to prove a breach of the Code of Conduct in respect of four of the five allegations. On allegation 1, he stated that he was the only person that recalled the conversation and that his evidence should be accepted. On allegation 2, he said that the conversation took place and that he was satisfied with Councillor Bellamy’s response. On allegation 3, Councillor Akram highlighted that Councillor Barnett was the only ... view the full minutes text for item 3.