Councillor faces standards probe

A COUNCILLOR in Suffolk is facing an investigation after a district council standards committee referred a complaint about them to the Standards Board for England.

A COUNCILLOR in Suffolk is facing an investigation after a district council standards committee referred a complaint about them to the Standards Board for England.

Suffolk Coastal District Council would not reveal the identity of the councillor, and said the individual could be a member of a parish, town or district council.

But in a statement, it said a resident had written to Suffolk Coastal's monitoring officer, Bruce Laws, outlining alleged breaches of the council's codes of conduct.

"At this stage we believe it to be unfair to name the councillor concerned but we have agreed to pass this alleged breach to the Standards Board for England for its investigation," said Kevin Williams, chairman of the Suffolk Coastal Standards Committee.

This is the first complaint Suffolk Coastal Standards Committee has received and had to refer to the Standards Board for England – which is currently investigating over 1,000 such referrals from the councils across the country.

The councillor concerned will carry on their duties as normal while the case is being investigated.

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The alleged breaches of the code of conduct are that the councillor "failed to declare an interest and then tried to influence officers and members on the matter", the council said.

The council's standards committee, which acts on behalf of local residents to help ensure that councillors and officers of the district council and the town and parish councils meet the high standards expected of them, includes two people entirely independent of local politics, two parish councillors and four district councillors.

The two independent members are Kevin Williams of Felixstowe, a retired secondary school headteacher and magistrate, and Lady Caroline Blois of Woodbridge, a former school governor and member of East Suffolk Health Authority.

The two representatives from the town and parish councils are John Hurn, a parish councillor from Aldringham-cum-Thorpe, and Neil Montgomery, a town councillor from Woodbridge, who were both nominated by the Suffolk Association of Local Councils.

The four district councillors on the committee are Peter Bellfield (Conservative), Mike Deacon (labour), John Kelso (Liberal Democrat) and Rae Leighton (Conservative).

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