Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sunlight from the Parish to the government?

As a Town/parish councillor I am expected to agree to the Councils code of conduct, I have to legally declare, what my financial interests are, what clubs I'm a member, my political party, even my trade union.

It is not only expected, rightly so, to declare an interest and leave the meeting where a item is discussed that you,your friends or family have a financial or strong personal relationship. If a member of the public believe you have an interest, a member could decide to leave the meeting.

Furthermore, if you come to a meeting of a parish council having agreed a position without knowing all the facts, this is predetermination, this offence will make it impossible for the councillor to participate in the debate. There does not have to be any offence, a member of the public can say it was their preception of wronghood, the councillor could then face months of investigation.

You may ask, why this is important. The government and the previous government set down these rules for parish and principled authority councillors to follow, Members of Parliament decided this is what local representatives should comply with.

Interestingly Shepton Mallet Town Councillors do not receive any expenses for their duties, the Chairman does receive an allowance to cover costs for their year of additional expenses.

Contrast and compare with the parliamentarians, whom claiming for manure, duck houses or anything they thought they'd would. There is no doubt that being a parish councillor costs each councillor financially, I've never heard anyone complain, because we do it for our Town.

The government has recently introduced that police can now investigate alleged corruption, say if a councillor was a working party leader organising a new contract, secretly he supported one company, his office had passed information to that company, so that company would win the contract.

That councillor would have broken the code, in terms of confidences, predetermination and acting on behalf of a company and not necessarily the Town they represented.

So we move on to the BSkyB bid we know David Cameron knew Jeremy Hunt was pro-BSkyB before he gave the Department of Culture, Media and Sport control of the bid, after taking it off Vince Cable because he was too biased.

We know the Culture secretary office was in constant communication with friends of BskyB.

So from what we know, if Jeremy Hunt was a parish councillor, he would be in more than a spot of bother.

Perhaps the Government, Police and Media could use some parish council transparancy?

The Leverson Commission is allowing sunlight on some murky and pretty unedifying going ons.

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