Councillor criticised for revealing details of Darwen planning application (From This Is Lancashire)
Councillor criticised for revealing details of Darwen planning application
9:00am Saturday 1st September 2012 in News
A COUNCILLOR faces being rapped on the knuckles and removed from the a planning committee by council standards chiefs over behaviour branded “disgraceful” by a senior colleague.
Sudell ward Liberal Democrat Paul Browne found himself in the middle of a furious row at Blackburn with Darwen borough’s full council forum over remarks he made to the Lancashire Telegraph about planners ordering a Darwen shop owner to remove new PVC windows from his premises.
Coun Browne, a member of the borough planning committee, described the decision to order Steve Frisby to take down the frames from Jack’s Discount Furniture on Croft Street as “barmy and stupid”.
At the forum on Thursday night, angry committee chairman Jim Smith launched a strongly worded attack on the LibDem for discussing private items on the planning agenda in breach of the council’s code of conduct.
Borough Labour leader Kate Hollern said she was referring Coun Browne to the authority’s legal director David Fairclough for breaking the rules governing confidential “Part Two” items on the committee agenda.
Coun Smith said: “Paul shouting his mouth off about a private part two item on the agenda was disgraceful. I am disgusted by what he did. He is out of order.”
But Coun Browne was unrepentant about his actions: “When can you talk about a private item? The public have a right to know what happens. This is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Coun Smith was out of order.
“Mr Frisby was just doing what other premises in the Darwen conservation area are doing.”
Mr Fairclough said: “The rules around the disclosure of confidential information are governed by the Code of Conduct for Councillors and any potential breaches will be assessed on a case by case basis.”
His staff will now look into the complaint and can report Coun Browne to the authority’s standards committee, which can recommend the full council to censure him if it finds him in breach of the rules.
He could then be removed from the planning and other council committees, ordered to undertake training on council procedures and removed from any outside bodies where he represents the borough.