Trimley stalwart threats to quit
TRIMLEY councillor Brian Greening is threatening to quit rather than be forced to declare his investments and inform on his colleagues.He says he will resign his post this spring when new rules come in, requiring all unpaid parish councillors to sign a code of conduct.
By Richard Cornwell
TRIMLEY councillor Brian Greening is threatening to quit rather than be forced to declare his investments and inform on his colleagues.
He says he will resign his post this spring when new rules come in, requiring all unpaid parish councillors to sign a code of conduct.
Mr Greening, a member of Trimley St Mary Parish Council, is not alone in his views on what the Labour party calls its local government "modernisation agenda", and councillors all over the country are threatening to quit en masse.
He said: "I think it is ridiculous. It is an invasion of privacy and it should not have to happen," said Mr Greening, who owns a newsagents shop in Faulkeners Way.
"I have got nothing to hide but I cannot see why I need to tell everyone all my business just because I sit on the parish council, which has very little power anyway. It smacks of Big Brother.
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"I will not sign it. No way."
Council vice chairman Nigel Bantoft said: "We are not powerful people ruling this area – we are parish councillors. We have no power.
"We object to a planning application and our views are ignored and Suffolk Coastal passes it. We ask for double yellow lines and we wait two and a half years. It's ridiculous to suggest we can gain anything from this."
Councillor Jean Harper said the majority of councillors would be suffering because of the illicit activities of a small minority.
Parish clerk George Harlow said any councillor failing to sign the new register of interests within 28 days of the new Code of Conduct being adopted on May 5 would be disqualified from serving as a councillor.
On the register, which will kept in the village and be open to public inspection, the councillors will have to give their names and addresses, any union membership, details of their jobs, any shares worth more than £25,000, and details of any village business or enterprise from which they earn more than £5,000.
A parish councillor must also declare whether any matter under discussion might advance "the well-being or financial position of himself, a relative, or a friend".
The code puts a requirement upon them to inform on colleagues not keeping to the rules, and complaints will be investigated and heard by a tribunal in London set up by the Lord Chancellor.
Few parish councillors serve for any reason other than a desire to improve their community and serve the place where they live – not for glory or financial benefits. There is no salary and rarely any expenses.
Most of the councils' work is in renting out allotments, commenting on planning applications, though they are a sounding board for local opinion and making sure problems in the area are highlighted and brought to the powers that be.