Another matter of interest

20 Oct

From the minutes of the standards advisory committee meeting held on October 6th, which considered a complaint that the Dear Leader had breached the code of conduct:

It was questioned whether, as a Mayoral Advisor Councillor Laguda should declare a pecuniary interest in item 6 (Investigation of complaint of breach of code of conduct by an elected member). Following advice from the Monitoring Officer Cllr Laguda decided that she need not declare an interest.

How jolly convenient. The special responsibility allowance she receives – which is entirely within the gift of the mayor and can be withdrawn by him at any time, for any reason – does not constitute a ‘pecuniary interest’!

Like so many politicians before her, Cllr Laguda has wrestled with her conscience and won.

Perhaps she should have thought a little harder about her decision, because the requirement to make a declaration also extends to non-pecuniary interests.

To quote from guidance issued to councillors (my emphasis added):

The Council’s Code of Conduct requires you to make a verbal declaration of the existence and nature of any … “Non-Pecuniary Interest”. Any Member who does not declare these interests in any matter when they apply may be in breach of the Code of Conduct.

You may have a … “Non-Pecuniary Interest” in an item of business where:

2.2.1 A decision in relation to that business might reasonably be regarded as affecting your well-being or financial standing, or a member of your family, or a person with whom you have a close association

2.3 A person with whom you have a close association is someone who is more than an acquaintance, and is someone you are in contact with over a period of time, whether regularly or not. It is someone that a reasonable member of the public might think you would be prepared to favour or disadvantage when discussing a matter which affects them.

All of the councillors on the hearing sub-committee should also consider section 5 of the guidance, on bias and pre-determination (again, emphasis added):

If in relation to any decision, your outside connections may make it appear to a reasonable person that there is a real danger of bias, or predetermination you should seek advice as to whether it is appropriate for you to participate in any discussion about the matter and in the decision, regardless of whether or not you consider that you should declare an interest as defined above.

Given that councillors Laguda, Scoresby, Collier and Amarjit Singh all campaigned alongside Sir Robin in May and were photographed with him on their leaflets, a reasonable person might very well think there is a danger of bias or pre-determination.

7 Responses to “Another matter of interest”

  1. law27 October 20, 2014 at 15:57 #


  2. Kevin Mansell October 27, 2014 at 10:19 #

    I don’t think Kay Scoresby is in Sir Robin’s pocket!

    • law27 October 29, 2014 at 07:36 #

      You may be right Kevin, but what evidence does the average Newham resident have to the contrary? I cannot think of one Newham councillor who has questioned Wales publicly with regard to his more questionable policies; I hear stories about a few who mutter dissent in private, covertly asking others to submit FOIs etc (I’ve been approached myself on many occasions) but what value is there in that?

      They’re elected to ask questions of the executive and keep the Mayor in check – do you think they do that?

      • Bill Thorne October 30, 2014 at 23:53 #

        Cllr Gray and Cllr Fiaz did at last full Council meeting about E15 Focus occupation? You congratulated them on twitter?

      • law27 October 31, 2014 at 07:55 #

        Indeed, but that was a rare occurrence and I’m inclined to think there was an element of shame that filtered through there (rightly so).

        I’d be for more impressed if they questioned the mayor on his relentless attempts to turn the Council into a commercial enterprise, especially as each attempt to-date has been an unmitigated disaster.

        I wrote to each of the new councillors in September asking them what they know of the Olympic Stadium “investment”, none have answered my questions.

  3. Bill Thornes November 2, 2014 at 23:21 #

    But they have questioned him when you said no one had? I think that if you also read the minutes of Newham Council scrutiny meetings, that you will find that there has been a number of public challenges by Newham Councillors to the Mayor, in particular, by Chairs of Scrutiny, Cllr Kay Scoresby and Cllr Dianne Walls

    • law27 November 3, 2014 at 07:02 #

      I never said no one had questioned the mayor – as you point out, I congratulated two for doing so. I don’t doubt that some questions may be directed towards the mayor during scrutiny meetings (I haven’t had the time to go over the minutes of every meeting so I cannot comment on the questions asked).

      However, the point l make is that, as far as I am aware, no councillor has questioned the mayor about his policy decisions that have been implemented (with the full backing of Council) without any coherent explanation – to the residents of Newham – of the reasoning that underpins the policy: the decision to invest £40 million in the Olympic Stadium being a case in point.

      If there has been any robust scrutiny of Wales and his pseudo-Tory policies it’s sailed by me.

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