Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : Was the reason for refusal the potential conflict of interest please?
yes that was the monitoring officers opinion and I agree that was the old rules but the new rules on interests since 2012 put the matter into that of the councillor and if people complained it was a police and the courts matter
Alex Watts : Is it against your human rights - no.
Alex Watts : This is because there is no human right in relation to such a matter.
Alex Watts : The only human right that would remotely apply is a right to a fair trial - but that applies to the criminal and civil courts.
being told by the monitoring office I can not even attend these meeting and if I do they will cancel the meeting ?
Alex Watts : This is not a court as you know.
Alex Watts : The officer must also have in mind when considering a conflict of interest any possibly of judicial review.
but he is refusing my representation of my residents
Alex Watts : If these meetings are open to the public then you can attend.
Alex Watts : But you can't be on the committee or attend to represent
Alex Watts : The council must be open and transparent any decision is open to judicial review.
Alex Watts : This is where a high court judge examines the decision of the council.
I accept the risk of a judicial review but the localism act says I am expected to represent my residents with out fear of prosicution
Alex Watts : What you have to ask yourself is would the average person on the street consider it right and proper in dealing with a decision in relating to land next to your house whether you should have any involvement. The answer is likely to be no.
Alex Watts : The risk of JR is not yours to take, it is for the council.
the site is only a possible site as no applications have been submitted
Alex Watts : As for representing residents this would not be a problem if you were not next to the land and had a vested interest
Alex Watts : But you do.
Alex Watts : The council must be seen as open and fair.
Alex Watts : You can write to the committee members and make representations as a resident
Alex Watts : Just as any resident can.
OK but we are a small Borough and the local plan covers a wide area and topics that could affect everyone
Alex Watts : But I agree, it can't be seen as open and fair to allow you to be on the committee or attend other than a member of the public.
Alex Watts : It does not stop you making written representations to the committee to be considered.
Alex Watts : But your role at any meeting can't be beyond a member of the public because of the close proximity of the relationship
I understand that but it is not the same as being there in the debate
Alex Watts : If the decision went in your favour those losing would cry wolf and could take it to court.
Alex Watts : You are able to attend as a member of the public - nothing more.
Alex Watts : They can't stop you doing that
Alex Watts : But you can't attend with your councillor hat on
Alex Watts : But again, it is not against your human rights
I was part of the group of Cllrs that scame up with the draft Local Plan that included the site in question
Alex Watts : Then you do have a conflict potentially.
Alex Watts : you should make written reps and can attend as a member of the oublic
Alex Watts : @ public @
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
OK thank you for your help today, is there any way to get around this not through human rights as there is obvious conflict between the old rules and the Localism Act
Alex Watts : Sadly the only options are to complain to the Chief Officer and Ombudsman www.lgo.org.uk
Alex Watts : I am sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you want and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I has a duty to be honest.
I appreciate your help this morning
Alex Watts : Unless I can clarify anything else for you can I invite you to rate my answer.
Alex Watts : If the system won't let you please do say
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