Tory disqualified

A TORY councillor has hit out at the decision of a tribunal to disqualify him from his position for 12 months for not declaring an interest during a meeting.

A TORY councillor has hit out at the decision of a tribunal to disqualify him from his position for 12 months for not declaring an interest during a meeting.

An adjudication panel yesterday decided Ipswich borough councillor Gordon Terry had breached the council's code of conduct after participating in a meeting of the scrutiny committee on October 2, 2002, in which he had a "financial" interest.

It was claimed Mr Terry's interest in the meeting, which was set up to discuss the council's first draft of the Local Plan, arose as a result of his business as a planning consultant.

The Standards Board for England claimed Mr Terry declared only a personal, non-financial interest, but should have declared a prejudicial interest and not taken part in the discussions.

Panel chairman Malcolm Gilbert disqualified Mr Terry from acting as a councillor for one year.

Mr Terry had told the Adjudication Panel that at the time of the meeting he had no financial dealings with any companies involved in the local plan.

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As a freelance planning consultant he had clients all over Southern England, only a small minority were within the borough of Ipswich.

He had had four clients involved with the local plan earlier, but had no financial dealings with them after January 2002 – nine months before the meeting.

Speaking after the meeting, which was held at the town's Novotel, Mr Terry claimed the findings of the panel would discourage people from volunteering to become councillors.

"We are taking counsel's opinion with a view to lodging appeals against these decisions.

"The setting up of the Standards Board and the Adjudication Panel was in response to scandals of an administrative and financial nature," he said.

"For this to be applied in such a fashion as over the past two days, to hold working people, voluntarily giving their expertise and time to helping run the local authority is utterly ridiculous."

Mr Terry had already been told he would be suspended from his post for 12 months, along with Tory councillor Stephen Barker, following the outcome a separate Adjudication Panel hearing on Thursday.

The panel heard how Mr Terry drafted a letter in the name of Mr Barker alleging Sue Arnold, the council's head of strategic planning and regeneration, was a "political aid" to the Ipswich council Labour group.

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