The Nolan Principles

Selflessness – Integrity – Objectivity – Accountability – Openness – Honesty – Leadership

“Parish councils, we all know, are hotbeds of intrigue, corruption and passion. Those who sit on them, a colourful mixture of oddballs, bullies and idiots.”

It would be unfair to characterise all those who give up their free time to serve on a Parish or Town council as ‘corrupt, bullies or idiots’. Over the years councillors have made a significant contribution to their parish, as a result of a great deal of hard work and dedication and they deserve the thanks and admiration of their parish. Given that there over 10,000 councils and around 80,000 councillors, there will always be some who work to a different agenda than that of their colleagues. It is these councillors who have allowed the name ‘parish council’ and in particular ‘parish councillor’ to be held in such low esteem by the public. But what is important is that many councils and councillors fail to uphold the very principles they agreed to uphold – The Nolan Principles.

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ThePacket | Posted 26th July 2017

 
Mathew McCarthy is defiant as his commitment as a councillor is questioned

Falmouth councillor Mathew McCarthy has defended his attendance record, which shows he has only attended one official meeting of both the town and county council since the May elections, after some fellow councillors questioned his commitment.

Liberal Democrat Mr McCarthy was first elected to the Penwerris ward on the town council in May 2015. He was re-elected at this year’s elections in May when he also won a seat on Cornwall Council with a 39 per cent share of the vote.

Since then he attended the first meeting of the new Cornwall Council on May 23 and did not attend any council meetings in Falmouth until Monday’s meeting of the town council’s finance and general purposes committee – over three months on.

Soon after the elections he asked to be taken off the town’s cultural services committee, but then changed his mind, but has resigned from its licensing committee.

At the last meeting of the full town council, fellow town and county councillor Candy Atherton asked: “Is Mr McCarthy planning to attending any meetings of this council any time in the near future? He has not attended one yet or any training.”

Other councillors also questioned Mr McCarthy’s commitment to his role as councillor, claiming he could not represent his electorate if he doesn’t attend council meetings.

At Cornwall Council Mr McCarthy is not on any committees, although he is a substitute on two – the electoral review panel and the customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee.

The other Cornwall councillors for Falmouth have attended more meetings. Ms Atherton is on one committee, and has attended six out of seven meetings; Geoffrey Evans sits on four committees and is substitute for another and has attended 14 out of 17 meetings; Alan Jewell is on four committees, substitute for another and has attended 12 of 13 meetings and David Saunby, who’s on one committee and substitute on two others, has attended all six of his meetings.

When tackled, Mr McCarthy defended his record, saying he had attended meetings that are “not recorded” and on Monday had been out working in the Penwerris ward from 9am until 5.50pm. “I’m working with people and getting things done,” he said.

“I am talking to residents of my ward and if they have a problem they can talk to me, but people are happy with the job I am doing. I have been dealing with planning, parking and road marking issues. If I thought I was doing a bad job as a councillor, I would be ashamed of myself.”

He added: “People are free to criticise, but it is the people of my ward that I am responsible to and they seem to be happy – I have not had any complaints. I was not elected by town councillors, but by the people of Penwerris.”

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Manchester Evening News | Posted 1st June 2005

 
No confidence vote in parish council

Tintwistle Parish Council has received a vote of no confidence – although the borough council has warned it may not mean its abolition.

Residents who attended Tuesday’s poll voted yes to the question: Do you want to abolish the parish council? by 191 votes to 183.

High Peak Borough Council will make a final decision on its future. But officials are under no obligation to take note of the poll and said the government supports the idea of parish councils, something they would take into account.

A spokeswoman said: “The council may at any time carry out a review of parishes within its area. However, there is no duty on it to do so.”

She added: “If the borough council decided to give consideration to a review this is a lengthy process prescribed by law. It includes comprehensive consultation procedures of all those who would be affected.

“It would also require a detailed evaluation of the financial and other consequences to the residents.

“The ultimate decision would be made by the secretary of state.”

Chairman Pat Jenner said he was disappointed at the result of the vote.

“It’s not a great victory but it is something we have to be concerned about. Although some people weren’t able to vote, disabled people and people who were working because there was no postal vote,” he said. “It’s up to High Peak council now.”

He said he hoped the parish council and the residents’ association, which called for the poll, could put aside their differences.

Chairman of the residents’ association, Ralph Bennett, said the result shows the ‘obvious disquiet’ among the electorate.

“This result gives us the moral high ground,” he said.

“And it’s up to the people who voted against the parish council to petition High Peak to see it through.”

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Cambridge News | Posted 3th March 2020

 
Residents ‘in limbo’ over South Cambs planning ‘pickle’

South Cambridgeshire District Council is “in a completely perfect pickle” over its planning process, an opposition councillor has said.

The council has announced there will be delays to planning applications while it awaits a session of its full council to convene on April 2 to amend its planning process.

The council has been challenged in the High Court on the legitimacy of its process for determining which planning applications are decided by elected councillors and which are decided by officers.

Prior to the legal challenge, the decision over whether an application went to the planning committee was taken by the chairman of that committee, a non-executive councillor.

On February 12 the council amended the process – or intended to – via the planning committee to shift the power to an officer, the director of planning Stephen Kelley.

The council says that in both systems the decision of either the chair of planning or the planning director is made in consultation with the other.

 
‘We want to be watertight’

But the campaign group Fews Lane consortium, which brought the original legal challenge, then made a further intervention, threatening another challenge and alleging it was unlawful for the council to change its constitution by any means other than a vote at full council.

Leader of the council, Lib Dem Cllr Bridget Smith, said after the meeting on February 12 that changes were made to the planning deferral process “to remove any legal ambiguity”.

The cabinet member for planning, Lib Dem Cllr Tumi Hawkins, originally defended that decision when the Fews Lane Consortium queried its legitimacy.

But Cllr Hawkins then issued a second statement saying: “Although we believe our constitution is clear on the matter, we want to be watertight. To do this we will be taking a report to full council on 2 April for a final decision.”

 
‘Arrogant’

Independent councillor Deborah Roberts has now hit out at the council administration, saying they have left the planning process and residents “in limbo” and behaved “arrogantly”.

“South Cambs don’t seem to know their own constitution,” she said. “They have got themselves in a completely perfect pickle.”

She said: “I’m afraid it’s because this current administration seems to think that it knows all and the general public knows nought and they just ignore them and ignore the parish councils.

“I understand they were warned about this issue last autumn. This whole thing could have been avoided.

“The Lib Dems on planning are getting too big for their boots too quickly. They need to take a step back and take a deep breath and they need to take proper legal advice.”

And she said “it’s quite clear that a lot of the parish councils are very unhappy about how delegation is being done”.

Cllr Roberts also queried the council’s communications throughout the ordeal. She said the council appeared to reject the charge it had done something wrong, while appearing to concede that it needed a further vote in the full council.

She likened the council’s communication with councillors over the issue to the difficulties associated with getting meat from a crab or lobster.

And she also raised fears planning applications may now go over the head of the council and to the government inspector and warned of the possibility of further legal fees to come.

She said those responsible for the planning “saga” should “consider their positions”.

 
‘We inherited the constitution’

In response, Cllr Smith said: “Shortly after we took over at South Cambs, we initiated a full review of the constitution of the council that we had inherited. This is painstaking work and it is now reaching its conclusion. The resulting document is much better and more clearly presented.

“It is unfortunate that at the moment some planning decisions that are called in by a parish council or local member will be delayed. However, we are taking this action to avoid a risk of additional delays for applicants caused by further legal challenges to our decisions.

“We will be carrying out a full review of how the planning committee operates with the planning advisory service. Whilst we always consider parish council comments, the review will look again at this and give us some options. As we don’t want to hold up the adoption of the new constitution, we will do this separately.

“The council has been the subject of some legal challenges on this matter. In order to be sure that the council is acting legally, we have sought external expert legal advice. Regrettably, the cost of this has been £3,725.”

The council said it could not say if it is likely to incur further legal costs as it will depend on factors outside of its control.

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