Councillors banned from big debate

TWO influential councillors have been excluded from the debate on the future of the Trimley villages and Walton – under strict new rules about elected representatives' interests.

TWO influential councillors have been excluded from the debate on the future of the Trimley villages and Walton – under strict new rules about elected representatives' interests.

Trimley St Martin Parish Council chairman Nigel Smith has been told he has a prejudicial interest because he is a tenant of landowners Trinity College.

Meanwhile Walton councillor Mike Deacon is unable to speak about the plans to develop in his area because he works for the Port of Felixstowe, also tenants of the college, and his wife Anne is the personal assistant to Tim Collins, a partner in Trinity's agents Bidwells.

Both councillors are deeply frustrated at being excluded from such a big issue – but cannot be seen to be commenting on matters in which they have an interest, even though they would be representing residents and not themselves.


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Under the new code of conduct for councillors, elected representatives must declare all their interests which could affect their council work.

The aim is to ensure that the democratic system is more open and prevent accusations of undue or unfair influence, or financial gain.

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A number of parish councillors across the county – including some in Trimley – have resigned in protest at the new rules being too onerous.

In a statement Mr Smith said he had spoken to Bruce Laws, monitoring officer for the regulations at Suffolk Coastal council, about his position and concluded that he had a prejudicial interest in the vision for the village's future.

This was because of his involvement with Trinity College as a business tenant of some of the college's land, although the site is outside the development area.

He did not wish to cause any problem for himself or the council in the future and wanted to act in a responsible manner and not give cause for complaint. The effect would be that he would not take part in any further discussions.

Parish council vice chairman John Barker will now act as the council's spokesman on the issue and chair all its debates.

Trinity College has submitted proposals to Suffolk Coastal council which envisage using all the fields and open space between the A14 and Felixstowe-Ipswich railway line for development, creating greens and village centres, industrial area and homes in Trimley, and some land in Walton.

It is said the land could be suitable for up to 3,000 homes, which would more than double the size of the villages.

However, whether all or part of the scheme is ever built and the numbers of homes will depend on Suffolk Coastal, acting on government allocations of housing needed in the area.

n Should experienced councillors be barred from commenting? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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