Wednesday, 23 August 2017
Vice Chairman admits to changing the rules to exclude elected councillor
BA Vice Chairman and unelected member Sir Peter Dixon boasted to Broadland leaders that both he and fellow Secretary of State appointee Prof Jacquie Burgess had openly canvassed members to oppose any attempt to reinstate Cllr Lana Hempsall on to the planning committee, going on to say that she was “not liked” at the Authority.
Warming to his theme, he accused her of being “disengaged”, which is a bit rich when you consider that he conspired to remove her from the planning committee without notice or reason, and that both he and Prof Burgess have steadfastly refused to reinstate her.
Standing order 32(2) states that “a member … must not in any way try to influence improperly the choice of candidate for any appointment”, putting Sir Peter and Prof Burgess in clear breach of standing orders - as well as as numerous elements of the code of conduct. Members must never use their position improperly to confer a disadvantage on others, for example, and must treat others with respect.
Proudly confirming that he had altered the Duty to Cooperate statement in direct response to Vic Thomson’s attempt to make the BA comply with its own rules, Sir Peter asked “why shouldn't that happen in such a circumstance?” He seems to think it quite normal that he can change the rules to suit his own personal agenda, and appears unaware that he is placing the Authority’s Local Plan at risk by putting his antipathy towards an elected member ahead of the BA’s Duty to Cooperate with local authorities.
Sir Peter concluded by saying that if Cllr Hempsall “behaved herself” for 6 months then he “might” re-consider the whole situation again. Unless and until that happens, Broadland will remain without any representation on the BA’s planning committee.
The comments from the Authority’s Vice Chairman reveal the staggering degree to which senior members are able to silence dissent and marginalise any member who does not subscribe to the “correct” opinions of the liberal elite. The fact that members appointed by the Secretary of State - who are elected by, and accountable to, nobody - are able to disenfranchise elected members and their stakeholders sends a clear - and unpalatable - message about accountability and freedom of speech at this publicly funded authority.
Readers should note that this article represents my personal opinions and should not be construed as being the view of the Navigation Committee. They are made in my private capacity as an individual, and not as a co-opted member of the Navigation Committee.