Councillor criticised for voting despite declaring an interest

Tom Brindley

Tom Brindley - Credit: Archant

A councillor has come under fire for voting on an issue which he had declared an interest in.

Councillor Tom Brindley voted in favour of passing a resolution for North Hertfordshire Homes at North Herts District Council’s full council meeting held last week.

Two other councillors who declared an interest in the agenda item were Cllr David Kearns, and Cllr Bill Davidson. All three councillors sit on the board of directors at North Hertfordshire Homes.

According to the Members Code of Conduct, anyone who declares an interest in an agenda item should refrain from engaging in any discussion on the matter and voting.

Cllr Judi Billing, who was at the meeting and sits opposite Cllr Brindley, said: “I was astonished and extremely confused why he voted. It clearly sets out in the Members Code of Conduct that members should be careful and act appropriately when it comes to voting and declaring an interest.

“I don’t know if Cllr Brindley voted accidently but it really is the principle of the matter.”

Cllr Kearns said: “I was advised to leave the chamber when voting took place, I thought it would be rude to leave while the discussions were going on so I left before the agenda item was discussed. It was up to Tom Brindly to sit through the presentation but personally I don’t think he should have stayed or voted, which goes against the Members Code of Conduct.”

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A council spokesman said: “The item was an update and presentation from North Hertfordshire Homes about the good work that they have done since stock transfer in 2003. Advice was given to members about the Code of Conduct. Subsequently three members declared an interest in the agenda item, one of whom chose to remain for the whole agenda item.

“It is a decision for each individual member as to their interpretation of the advice received and whether they choose to stay or leave. In accordance with normal practice for such a recommendation there was not a recorded vote.”

Cllr Brindley said: “As there were no financial implications and after taking appropriate advice, there was no reason not to be present.”