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If Councillors fail to declare their interests but continue to vote on the matter does this invalidate any vote taken?

0 votes

Following a recent Parish Council Meeting it has become clear that 3 Councillors had failed to declare disclosable pecuniary interests. 2 of these councillors also failed to declare prejudicial interests. One of these councillors then proposed a motion that was passed by 3 votes to 1. Two of the councillors voting in favour of the motion were those who had failed to declare their interests.   The Code of Conduct required them to :-

· not seek to influence a decision about that business

· disclose to that meeting the existence and nature of that interest no later than the start of the consideration of the business in which they had that interest, or (if later) the time at which the interest becomes apparent to them.

· withdraw from the meeting room or chamber as soon as it becomes apparent that the business is being considered at that meeting;

What impact does this have on the result of the vote, which would clearly have been different had those conflicted Councillors not voted?

by (140 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
If the parish councillors have failed to declare a pecuniary interest, then this is a legal matter and one that could, in extreme, involve prison and fines - Localism Act 2011, s34  You would need to report it to the monitoring officer to take action.
by (21.1k points)
Is there an equivalent Act related to this for Wales?

I have challenged a Chair who has not declared  a prejudicial interest (concerning payment of a grant for unspecified purposes to organisations that he's on the committee of).  He's then admitted to a prejudicial interest and then refused to leave the room...
0 votes
In this case, there would only be person who was eligible to vote, which would mean the committee or council would not be quorate. Therefore, if it were a committee it should be referred to full council. If this is was full council, then they should have declared their interests and then acted in the public interest (not their own), but again, there is an exception to interests if doing so would make the council non-quorate.

The councillors have 28 days to declare their interest if they haven't already done so.

When / If they fail to declare it, you can refer it to the monitoring officer for investigation.
by (9.0k points)
There were also 2 Councillors who abstained from the vote.
The failures to declare conflicts of interest, together with a breach of Standing Orders were reported informally to the Monitoring Officer. He put pressure on the Chairman of the Parish Council who subsequently declared that the contentious meeting was "null and void", and that the vote would not stand.

The Councillors who failed to declare their interests have subsequently done so, and the Register of Interests has been updated. The Monitoring Officer is to undertake a full day's training session for all the Parish Councillors so that they properly understand their own Code of Conduct, and in particular learn what constitutes a conflict of interest.
I find it difficult to believe the MO put pressure on the chair. In my view the MO has no such power. The chair might have claimed that, but it may not be true. Someone should make an FOI request to determine the nature of the advice given. I also find it difficult to believe that a chairman has any power to declare a meeting null and void, in fact, I don't believe it. A chairman of a parish council has no special powers. If anything of that nature were to have been decided I think it should have been the clerk's decision, but even then I don't see how a decision can be overturned.

I do not know what is an informal report to the MO! Either they were reported or they were not. Why not throw the book at the offenders?

As far as offences under the Localism Act are concerned, they are quite simply not being recognised by MOs or being pursued in courts. Parish councils cannot operate with probity until they are.

This is an absolute mess which should be very publicly exposed.

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