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Councillor suspension upheld by tribunal

PUBLISHED: 18:21 09 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:50 08 July 2010

An appeals tribunal has upheld a decision by a local council to suspend one of its members for seeking to improperly influence a planning application.

The Adjudication Panel for England has rejected an appeal by councillor Paul McCarthy of Watton Town Council against a three-month ban imposed by the standards committee of Breckland Council last year.

An appeals tribunal has upheld a decision by a local council to suspend one of its members for seeking to improperly influence a planning application.

The Adjudication Panel for England has rejected an appeal by councillor Paul McCarthy of Watton Town Council against a three-month ban imposed by the standards committee of Breckland Council last year.

Mr McCarthy and his wife Lorraine, also a Watton town councillor, were suspended on November 14, 2007, for failing to declare a prejudicial interest in a planning application at a meeting in January 2007.

Mrs McCarthy, whose suspension lasted six weeks, did not appeal against the decision.

Mr McCarthy told the Times: “What happened, happened and whatever comment I would make now is not going to be relevant.”

“I appealed against the ban in January this year because the documents (for the appeal) arrived very late.”

A standards committee at Breckland Council found that Paul and Lorraine McCarthy sought to improperly influence an application by David Cram to build a bungalow in the grounds of his home on Wood Lane.

Mr McCarthy is a managing director of Weco Engineering Ltd and Mrs McCarthy is a joint director of Weco, a business that shares an access with Mr Cram's home on Wood Lane.

Since he moved to Wood Lane in 1999 Mr Cram has had a number of disputes with Mr McCarthy over the use of Wood Lane.

Both councillors declared a personal but not a prejudicial interest and voted to oppose the plans when they were discussed by the town council at a meeting on January 30.

Mr McCarthy used his casting vote to push through the town council's objection to the proposal.

Mr McCarthy said at the time that he had not declared a prejudicial interest because he felt there were other members in the planning meeting with conflicting interests who did not fully declare them and that it was important he stayed in the meeting to ensure a fair debate.

Earlier this year, Bryan Wykes, another Watton town councillor, was found by the Standards Board of England to be in breach of the councillors' code of conduct.

However, the local government watchdog concluded that his failure to comply with the code was too minor to warrant any further action.

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