Sound of silence

Contributed by editor on Nov 22, 2004 - 10:21 PM


Dear Ed

Grants to parish councils could still be available had advice from Shepway Council not been flawed.

These concurrent services grants could be used for grass cutting, street lighting, playing fields and churchyards maintenance to name but a few.

If  you remember the fiasco of  last years concurrent services grant cut and the issue of the legitimacy of the advice by the the monitoring officer to the councillors who sat on both the parish and district council, you will probably know that many of these councillors suspected that the advice, which had not been asked for, was flawed.

Under Shepway Council's constitution, which had recently been ratified by the Government, 'dual hatted' councillors were allowed to vote on all issues which affected both their parish and district council interests.

Just recently I have received a copy of a letter from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to the Local Standards Board. It confirms my belief that there was no interest to declare in the first place.

This is now compounded by the latest advice from the Standards Board of England (SBE) which has again confirmed that no declarations of interest were required.

At recent meeting held between representatives of parish councils and Shepway District Council (SDC), Shepway were challenged on the legality of the advice given by the monitoring officer.

A senior officer claimed that he had received a letter from the SBE last autumn confirming the position of the advice he had given them.

However, this advice from the SBE was at odds with Shepway Council's own constitution.

When challenged why the monitoring officer did not immediately go to Shepway's constitutional committee to seek to change the constitution, in the light of that advice, no answer was forthcoming.

Colin Tearle