10:00AM, Saturday 07 November 2020
A developer has objected to the Royal Borough’s handling of a complaint it made about an alleged breach of code of conduct by councillors.
On September 16, at a planning meeting, Councillor Leo Walters (Con, Bray) proposed to block plans to demolish an existing building and construct eight flats at Zaman House, in Church Road.
This was seconded by Councillor Geoff Hill (The Borough First, Oldfield).
Church Premier Homes thought that the councillors showed ‘pre-determination and bias’ and called for both to be permanently removed from the planning panel.
In particular, the company stressed that Cllr Walters had failed to acknowledge a conflict of interest, i.e his position on Bray Parish Council.
Cllr Walters countered that he does not attend parish council meetings for this very reason.
The Royal Borough monitoring officer dismissed CP Homes’ claims on October 19, deciding that it had acted with ‘the sole aim’ of attempting to ensure Cllrs Hill and Walters could not attend the next planning meeting – thus improving the chances that its planning application would be approved.
Councillors on the panel rejected the application on October 21, citing flooding issues and the impact on the area’s character.
Since then, CP Homes has claimed that its code of conduct complaint was not concluded to its satisfaction before the October 21 meeting.
“[CP Homes] formally responded [to the Royal Borough’s response] on October 20 and was still awaiting further formal response from the council,” said a spokesperson.
The applicant further complained that the councillors on the panel gave no ‘clear articulated reasons for going against the professional advice of their own officers’, who recommended that the Zaman House application be approved.
A council spokesperson said: "The decisions were made on 19 October 2020, before the Development Panel meeting which was held on 21 October 2020. There is no appeal against these decisions. However it is open to Mr. Iqbal (the complainant) to refer the matter to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman."
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