Councillors rapped

PUBLISHED: 11:22 23 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:40 06 May 2010

A ROW over a £600 advert for a council placed seemingly without following the proper procedures is rumbling on. Two weeks ago The Comet was contacted by a concerned resident about an advert for Letchworth Garden City Council (LGCC) which appeared in our p

A ROW over a £600 advert for a council placed seemingly without following the proper procedures is rumbling on.

Two weeks ago The Comet was contacted by a concerned resident about an advert for Letchworth Garden City Council (LGCC) which appeared in our paper on January 26.

The full-page advert was paid for by taxpayers' money but David Levett, from Rushby Mead, Letchworth GC, said he could not recall any expenditure being approved for it.

Mr Levett also said that the content of the advert had not been approved or proof read before it appeared.

At a full council meeting this week, both the council's chairman Raymond Smale and the vice chairman Philip Ross had their wrists slapped over the advert in a report by clerk Peter Evans.

According to the report, a budget of £2,000 for advertising had been agreed by the council.

But although a price for the specific advert may have been discussed at council meetings, it was never written down.

The report states that the contractor who designed the advert sent it to The Comet after liaising with Cllrs Smale and Ross regarding content and layout.

The contractor had also agreed the price for the advert with Cllrs Smale and Ross.

In the conclusion to his report, Mr Evans said that "councillors need to be reminded that per standing orders they have no authority to enter into contracts on behalf of the council".

In addition, the council approved five recommendations from the report, one of which was that Cllrs Smale and Ross are "formally reminded of their duties and responsibilities as councillors and chairmen".

The advert also landed LGCC in hot water with North Herts District Council over a paragraph which cites NHDC'S "failure to consult" it on issues and projects.

According to Mr Evans' report, LGCC had received a letter from NHDC "advising the council that persistence in this behaviour may lead to it being referred to the standards board".

A spokesman for NHDC confirmed that it had written to LGCC, but said the council could not comment on the content as it was confidential.

In a bid to heal the rift between the two councils, at its meeting this week LGCC agreed to invite NHDC to sign an undertaking that the two councils will consult each other on "all matters and proposals that will affect the local community".

In response to this proposed undertaking, a spokesman for NHDC said:

"NHDC has already committed to consultation with all parish and town councils through the parish charter and this very much includes the town council.

"NHDC and the town council have been discussing liaison and consultation arrangements for a number of months.

"NHDC has indicated that, as a minimum, it will adhere to consultation commitments given to all town and parish councils in its parish charter. We look forward to receiving any proposals from the town council which might improve on this."

Speaking after the council's meeting, David Levett said: "All the points I wanted to make were raised and covered.

"They seem to have accepted that they should have approved it and they didn't approve it.

"I wasn't objecting to the advert per se, but the way it was done, it wasn't done in line with their own procedures.

"Hopefully they've learnt their lessons.

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